Campaign launched to re-open Brooklyn War Memorial
Dozens of local community members joined elected officials to honor 26 World War II veterans in a ceremony at the Brooklyn War Memorial on Sunday commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“I was the one honored to serve,” 95-year-old David Kaplan, an Army vet who was stationed in the Philippines, told CBS 2 News. “We were faced with a terror that’s unbelievable.”
The event proved a fitting Memorial Day weekend tribute, to be sure—but it also doubled as a referendum on the need to re-open a permanent tribute to the Brooklynites who fought for their country in World War II.
The War Memorial in Cadman Plaza, dedicated in 1951, was built to be just that. The enormous granite-and-limestone building was the Brooklyn realization of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’s desire to provide a World War II monument to each borough. A wall in the main auditorium is inscribed with approximately 11,500 names of Brooklyn service members who died during the war. For decades, the memorial served as a community facility for veterans’ groups, arts organizations, and Community Board 2. But over the years, the building’s condition deteriorated, such that by the early 80s, it was closed to the public.
However, the Cadman Park Conservancy, in conjunction with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, is hoping to reopen the Brooklyn War Memorial. To kick off the fundraising effort, the Conservancy has launched a $1.5 million GoFundMe campaign to raise money for new stone work, a new roof, new electricity, new plumbing, new glass, insulation, renovated bathrooms, and an elevator and ramp to make the Memorial handicapped-accessible. In addition, the New York City Parks Department has set aside $3 million to help construct ramps.
The campaign is part of a larger effort for a full-scale re-visioning of the Brooklyn War Memorial and Cadman Plaza Park, as part of the proposed Brooklyn Strand – a pedestrian-friendly green space connecting Downtown Brooklyn to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
“The Brooklyn War Memorial represents the best of America – ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary feats of bravery and fortitude on behalf of generations of American citizens, including those of us gathered here today, whom they would never meet,” said Brigadier General Sutton, M.D., Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs . “May we never forget the price of freedom–now and always.”
This week, Borough President announced he would allocate $500,000 in capital funding toward the effort of re-opening the Memorial.
“Americans can sit under the tree of freedom because it has been watered with the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers,” said Borough President Adams. “Brooklyn is proud of its veterans, both past and present, and Memorial Day is but one of countless occasions throughout the year for us to say thank you with words and actions alike. In that spirit, and in tribute to the over 11,000 Brooklynites that gave their lives during World War II, I ask all to join me in the effort to reopen the Brooklyn War Memorial.”
To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.