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A Brooklyn Reflection on World War I on Veterans Day

Ellen Levitt

Posted on November 12, 2018 11:01

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To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and Veterans Day in general, I visited memorials and gravesites and reflected on the legacy of this war.

It is a century since World War I ended. Sunday, November 11, 2018 marked the anniversary of a most horrible war's armistice, a war that touched nearly every corner of our planet, and had vast repercussions for events in its wake. In that spirit, my husband and I decided to pay homage to veterans and to the Great War's legacy, by visiting World War I public memorials in Brooklyn.

Our first stop was Zion Triangle Plaza, in southwest Brownsville. Here is a World War I memorial specifically devoted to remembering Jewish military men who died fighting in WW1. I'd visited this site on Memorial Day last year for a ceremony, and was impressed by its sculptures and plaques. However, this Sunday the plaza was fenced off, in the midst of a vast overhaul. We could only glimpse the somber sculptures from afar. 

Next we drove to Saratoga Park in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Located in the center of this rectangular park is a bronze and pink granite memorial to local military men who died during WW1. Dedicated in 1921, it had suffered abuse and neglect over the years but in 2014 it was redone. It is a stirring monument with names listed. We stood and viewed it by ourselves; others in the park were jogging and romping in the playground section.  

A short drive away we arrived at Freedom Triangle in nearby Bushwick. In the shadow of an elevated subway train line, and bordered by a few avenues, this gated and tiny park was empty when we arrived. We walked around and admired the statue, then went inside the park to examine details and inscriptions, including a dedication to neighborhood men who died during the War.

We were moved by and interested in each of these three sites, which not only recalled the legacy of men in wartime but also linked them to their local communities. However, we were dismayed that no one else seemed to take notice of these sites on Veterans Day.

Later we drove to Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn's center. Here there were small groups of people visiting, as well as tour groups. We chose to concentrate on finding any veterans' gravesites and paying homage to them. We stopped by a notable Civil War monument and found a section where many Civil War soldiers were buried. Another man stood with us and observed the area, discussing its features. 

(There is another lovely World War I park memorial, in Prospect Park.)

Our Veterans Day local pilgrimage was intriguing, and sad for several reasons. Why didn't more people come to pay their respects at these historic sites on this day? Veterans Day was on a Sunday, making it convenient for most people. The weather was fine and sunny. These factors should have encouraged more people to pay their respects. But these memorials are largely forgotten, along with the names of the dead. World War I seems so far in the past, for too many people. It should not. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on November 12, 2018 11:01

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Source: ABC Boston

World War II veteran Anthony Zukas will be saluted Sunday in a local Veterans Day parade.

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