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ROCKAWAY WAR MEMORIALS – Forgotten New York

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Two war veterans’ monuments, erected in 1927 and 1989, face each other across Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 94th and 95th Streets on the peninsula.

One of a number of World War I monuments depicting the rank and file soldiers known as “doughboys,” the Rockaway memorial is according to Kevin Fitzpatrick [World War I New York] the one closest to France, where most of the US’ casualties were taken. The sculpture by Joseph Pollia was dedicated on November 12, 1927 in what was then a traffic island on Rockaway Beach Boulevard; it was moved to the boulevard’s south side when the approaches to the Cross Bay Bridge were added in 1967.

In addition to the original honor roll plaque, sculpted with a sapper and a sailor with the 17 peninsula men who perished in World War I, other plaques have been added with subsequent conflicts: WWII; Korea; and Vietnam. I imagine there will be a Gulf/Iraq Wars plaque if any soldiers from the Rockaways died fighting those wars. (We never run out of plaques; hopefully, someday, we’ll run out of wars.)

To my knowledge, the only memorial for women veterans in NYC stands across the WWI memorial on the south side of Rockaway Beach Boulevard. It was dedicated in 1989 and is the work of sculptor Eileen Barry. Commissioned by American Legion Post 272 in Rockaway Beach, it was originally going to accompany the Doughboy across the street, but the NYC Art Commission rejected the idea, claiming Barry’s work was insufficiently “artistically strong.” It was located across the street while the city was supposed to find an alternate location, but it seems to have found a home here.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

11/11/19



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