Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veterans Day In City Parks

The 107th Infantry Memorial by Karl Lllava (1889 - 1954) in Central Park at 67th street and Fifth Avenue is adorned with wreaths surrounded by beautiful Fall colors.  The memorial is dedicated to the men who served in the 107th New York Infantry Regiment during World War I. The sculpture - made of bronze with a granite base - was dedicated on September 29,  1927.

The more than 270 military memorials found in city parks are a poignant and permanent reminder of the supreme sacrifices our nation's veterans have made in the service of our  country.

Photos: (Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

New York City Parks once again played an important role in reminding the public of the ultimate sacrifices the nation's veterans have made throughout the country's history.

War memorials account for more than a fourth of the more than 1,000 monuments found in the 29,000 acres of city park land. 

The park's more than 270 military memorials function as permanent reminders in bronze and stone, as well as landscape art of the steep price our nation, and our metropolis has paid for the preservation of its security and freedoms, " according to the Parks Department.

The city's official commemoration began in Madison Square Park at 10:00am with the annual wreath-laying ceremony attended by veterans and elected officials at the Eternal Light Monument (Thomas Hastings 1860-1929) to honor those who gave their lives.     

The ceremony concluded at 11:11 a.m.  kickws off the Veterans Day parade.  

The opening ceremony for New York City's annual Veterans Day Parade,  the largest in the nation, was held in Madison Square Park where wreaths were laid under the Eternal Light Monument to honor the fallen. 

The monument - erected to COMMEMORATE THE FIRST HOMECOMING  OF THE, VICTORIOUS ARMY AND NAVY UNITED STATES was dedicated on Armistice Day,  November 11,  1923,  and each year is the site where the annual Veterans Day parade begins.


The theme of this year’s parade was “Land of the Free/Home of the Brave,”  honoring the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key's  “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The public pay respects at the Eternal Light Monument in Madison Square Park. 

The parade marks the 95th anniversary of the first Veterans Day Parade in 1919 to commemorate the first Armistice that ended World War 1, a year earlier.

The Armistice was declared on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, of what was supposed to be "the war to end all wars."  

The event also comes five months after the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Vietnam veteran Jimmy Scannapieco, 65 of South Beach Staten Island plays with 8-year-old Laya, an American Pit Bull Terrier at Madison Square Park after the ceremonies.  Mr. Scannapieco was wounded in 1970 when his eye was struck with shrapnel while serving in Da Nang. 

Across town in Riverside Park the deteriorating Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument did not deter 82-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Robert Schron and his son from visiting.

Visitors were allowed inside the rarely opened interior and Urban Park Rangers gave tours of the building and the surroundings. 

"It brings back a lot of memories thinking about the guys I was with," said Mr. Schron who served during the Korean War and still has lunch once a week with a fellow serviceman he reconnected with while visiting London. 

Visitors were allowed inside the rarely opened interior Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park at 89th Street and Riverside Drive on this Veterans Day. Budget cuts have severally crippled the Urban Park Ranger programs over the years. 

An Urban Park Ranger vistis with Korean War and U.S. Navy veteran Robert Schron.  

Mr. Schron grew up a few blocks away on 92nd Street and said he last visited the interior of the building when he was 8. 

"It looks a lot smaller,"  he said taking in the circular white marble walls underneath the monument's domed ceiling 95 feet above after a 74-year absence.  

Built in 1902 at a cost of two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars the historic  monument commemorates the Union Soldiers and Sailors lost during the Civil War. 

The project had at least one wealthy detractor,  the widowed daughter-in-law of the Dakota's builder who got a temporary injunction against building the monument. She lost.  

The dilapidation is clearly visible.   The veined white marble has been carelessy painted over to cover up many areas of marked by graffiti including on the Corinthian columns.  The ornate eagle perched above the monument's entrance is missing its beak.   

A lack of dedicated maintenance and capital funds from the government coupled with vandalism however have clearly taken their toll over the years on the 112 year-old monument. 

The beautiful white marble has been painted over in numerous areas in a poor attempt to cover up of graffiti.   The ornate eagle perched above the monument's entrance is missing its beak.  Granite replaced the marble around the circular base years ago. 

Severe water damage is visible on the mosaic floor inside.

Severe water damage has damaged the mosaic floor.

Efforts to restore the building have fallen through over the years.  And like much of the park system the agency is increasingly relying on the predicable underfunded public/private partnerships for virtually all of the Parks Department's art and antiquities conservation needs.

"Beautiful architecture," said Mr. Schron.  

"It really is a shame they don't take better care of it. It's supposed in honor of." 

An Urban Park Ranger in training gives an interpretive tour at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park  on Veterans Day.   Budget cuts have severally crippled the Urban Park Ranger program over the years, they are down to only a handful of postions.

Read More:

New York Times - July 10,  2005 - By Seth Kugel 

New York Times - October 13,  2002 - By Chistopher Gray

1 comment:

  1. It is both inspiring that the city and its parks join with our honored veterans to so powerfully remember their courageous sacrifice and service one day a year, and distressing that it fails to fund the basic ways to do so the other 364.