There are many war memorials, of course, across this country. But, perhaps because I didn’t anticipate it, I was especially moved a few weeks ago when, almost as soon as I stepped out of the subway, I saw the Brooklyn War Memorial.
The granite and limestone memorial, designed by Stuart Constable, Gilmore D. Clarke, and W. Earle Andrews, spans the width of Cadman Plaza Park (see my post about the latter here). The photo accompanying this post shows only one of the two larger-than-life-sized, high-relief figures by sculptor Charles Keck (1875–1951). It is, in keeping with those honored today on Veterans Day, a male warrior.
The other high-relief figure is a woman with a child. She is, in her way, as powerful a symbol as the soldier, representing the families that these warriors sought to defend, as well as the figures who worried and prayed at home for the safe delivery of their husbands, sons, and brothers.
(Sculptor Kech created another statue that may be even more famous: the one of Fr. Francis Duffy, chaplain of New York’s famed “Fighting 69th” regiment in WWI, that anchors midtown Manhattan’s theater district, as seen in this prior post of mine.)
So many of these service personnel, of course, never did return. While the memorial honors the 300,000 "heroic men and women of the borough of Brooklyn" who served in WWII, its memorial hall takes special note of the fallen by listing the approximately 11,500 names of those who never came home.
Insufficient funding put a crimp in the plans for an even larger Brooklyn War Memorial. Still, even what we see now feels immense—though certainly nothing approaching the debt that future generations owed these service personnel for ridding Europe of the pestilence of Fascism in what, for many of us, feels like another lifetime.