2009 Veterans Day Speech by Ron Marcus
11 November 2009
Speech delivered in St. John’s Park.
Today, citizens pause at ceremonies throughout our nation and the world, in observance of the sacrifices that members of the armed forces have given during America’s long history. It is a time to evoke a sense of gratitude for what they gave and continue to offer at this very moment.
There is an ancient and honorable custom of erecting memorials in commemoration of a war related event. They range in size from simple markers to elaborate complexes covering vast numbers of acreage with amphitheaters, arches, columns and statuary. But regardless of size, they all convey the same basic message of remembrance.
After the end of the American Civil War communities throughout a devastated but reunified nation began building memorials in untold numbers. Some towns and cities took action immediately, while others, for various reasons commenced construction at later dates. Here in Stamford, after several attempts during the nineteenth century, planning for the magnificent monument we see today did not begin to evolve until the end of WWI.
It was then, that a War Memorial Committee chaired by Mayor John H. Treat chose George A. Freeman, Architect to submit a design resulting in the edifice before us. It is modeled after the classic choragic monument of Lysicrates, erected in 334 BC which still stands today in Athens, Greece within sight of the Acropolis. Our monument stands 34’ high. Its bronze plaques, cast by Gorham Company of Providence and New York, contain the name of every known person who served in the military from Stamford beginning with the colonial wars through WWI. The wall panels between the half columns list some of the various campaigns these patriots were engaged in. At the top of the structure are three carved eagles, which are represented sustaining a globe. Built at a cost of a little over $50,000, gathered completely by means of private donations, it was dedicated on November 11, 1920. Over the past eighty-nine years, it has inspired generations of Stamford’s citizens.
Few war memorials in our State commemorate those who have served in the armed forces, over such a span of time, with as much classical beauty, dignity and lasting tribute.
Ronald Marcus is the librarian of the Stamford Historical Society
Soldiers Monument at St. John's Park