Photos: War Memorial event honors pioneering 100-year-old Navy veteran

November 12, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Veterans Day, Nov. 11, was overcast in Brooklyn, but rainfall seemed held at bay by a higher power. It did not fall until the end of an inspirational morning ceremony in Cadman Plaza Park.

Friends of the Brooklyn War Memorial and public officials had gathered to honor 100-year-old Katherine Horton, a pioneering Black, female World War II veteran. The event also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

Horton joined the U.S. Navy in 1944 and joined the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). During World War II, more than 85,000 women served in the Navy WAVES, mainly in auxiliary and supportive capacities. They had to fight an uphill battle, since many in Congress and the Navy had initially opposed having women serve.

Carroll Gardens resident Maggie Morth stood almost at attention during the entire ceremony, holding a framed 8×10 photo of her late father, Henry Morth, a native of North Dakota. “I honor his memory at every veterans event that I attend,” noted Morth. “He was drafted into service as a tech sergeant and served in the Battle of the Bulge.”

Horton was one of the first three Black women allowed to study at the U.S. Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, during the war. She continued to serve in the Navy and worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard after the war, eventually becoming a rehabilitation therapist who helped veterans at the Brooklyn V.A. Hospital.

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Last year, Horton, who turned 100 last month, was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.

The memorial itself, which opened in 1951, has been closed to the public for 30 years because it does not comply with ADA guidelines. It is currently under renovation.

Toba Potosky, leader of the effort to renovate and reopen the Brooklyn War Memorial, spoke at the ceremony.

Local activist Toba Potosky led the effort to renovate and reopen the memorial, raising $2.5 million, and the city Parks Department added an additional $3 million to complete the cost.

The renovation began in January 2020. It is expected to be completed in June 2021.

Borough President Eric Adams spoke with veteran Jack Vanasco.


An attendee thanked Horton for her Service.


Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon spoke at the ceremony.


Reverend Andrea Vassell attended the event.


Horton, right, with daughter Sandy Emanuel, center, and nurse Sonia Lewis during the National Anthem.


Councilmember Stephen Levin spoke at the event.


Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, left, Councilmember Stephen Levin, center, and NYC Veterans Alliance President Kristen Rouse stood in front of the Memorial.


Cadman Park Conservancy President Doreen Gallo spoke at the Memorial.


NYC Veterans Alliance President Kristen Rouse presented Horton with a coin for her service.

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