Veterans Day ceremony at Brooklyn War Memorial honors local heroes
Memorial is now ADA accessible
In a stirring ceremony, the 6th Communication Battalion U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard stationed at Floyd Bennett Field presented the colors during the annual Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony in Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn.
The event, sponsored by the Cadman Park Conservancy, took place on the plaza of the Brooklyn War Memorial, which honors the more than 300,000 men and women of Brooklyn who served in World War II. Renovations were recently completed on an ADA-accessible ramp and elevator at the memorial, which has been shuttered for almost 30 years. More repairs need to be undertaken, however, before the memorial can be reopened.
Two Brooklyn veterans were spotlighted for their service in wars separated by roughly half a century.
Brooklyn WWII veteran Norman Wasserman, who passed away on Sept. 4, was remembered in a eulogy by his wife Tatyana Wasserman.
Wasserman, decorated for his heroism during the Battle of the Bulge, received the French Legion of Honor in a ceremony at West Point in 2012.
“I spent 18 years of my life with him, and I’m incredibly happy to have had the privilege of knowing him, to share his life experiences … Through all his life, he was very strong, very focused, a hard-working person, disciplined, a great example for me,” Tatyana said.
Wasserman went through the “horrifying, devastating experiences of the war.” she said. “He told me that they were allowed to bring weapons home from Europe, and he had brought a gun. He was on the Queen Mary boat coming back from Europe to New York, and he was standing on the deck. He decided he didn’t need that gun, and he threw it in the ocean. His feeling for peace, the fight against suffering and violence, became one of his major things in life.”
Guest speaker was veteran Glomani Bravo-Lopez, senior advisor for strategic operations for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and former chief of staff for Councilmember Stephen Levin. Bravo-Lopez served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years after graduating from James Madison High School in Brooklyn.
Doreen Gallo, president of the Cadman Park Conservancy, introduced Bravo-Lopez. “He signed up to go to the front line, electing to join the infantry and being assigned to the Third Battalion, Second Marine Division,” she said.
Bravo-Lopez served two combat deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During their first deployment, his unit lost 14 Marines, mostly to improvised explosive devises and sniper fire. During his final nine months, he served as a marksmanship instructor, training Marine units deploying overseas.
Bravo-Lopez led a moment of silence for fallen veterans and spoke about transitioning from service in the Marines to public service in government.
“Getting involved in the veterans’ community and walking into the office of Councilmember Stephen Levin afforded me the opportunity to serve, and to learn about myself … to go on this journey, with many others. I’ve learned what it is to connect what I’ve done with everything else in my life.”
Flanked by Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and incoming Councilmember Lincoln Restler, Levin presented Bravo-Lopez with a proclamation.
Bravo-Lopez applauded the Marines in the Color Guard. These included First Sergeant Machado and the Color Guard detachment: Sgt. Jessica Saint-Jean; Sgt. Eden Garza; Sgt. Jackson Sewall; and Cpl. Obryan Yuwar.
Levin pointed out the words inscribed on the War Memorial. “The words etched in stone here, which will outlast all of us, are an important message for future generations to recognize the sacrifice of those who fought in WWII from the borough of Brooklyn and those who volunteer for our armed services every day.”
Restler, who will be taking over Levin’s District 33 seat at the City Council, said, “As the incoming councilmember, I hope to be a strong advocate for our veterans, both in making the Brooklyn War Memorial the great public space that has been promised to us for so long, and I also hope to be an advocate at City Hall to make sure that veterans are getting the public services and support that they need — housing, mental health, job training, health care, across the gamut.”
The memorial, which opened in 1951, has been closed to the public for more than two decades because it did not comply with ADA guidelines. Though the ramp and elevator are completed, the interior and roof still await repairs. The oval-shaped lawn at the north end of the park will also be reconstructed, and a new water system will be installed to service the currently nonworking water fountains.
Gallo thanked Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon for her advocacy in pushing for funding for the renovations.
Simon said the dream of the memorial was as yet unfulfilled. “It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the armistice was signed to end the war that would end all wars,” Simon said. “That was WWI — and obviously we are here at a WWII memorial. That speaks passionately about a need for universal peace, which we haven’t had since this memorial was erected.”
Inside the War Memorial are displayed approximately 11,500 names of Brooklyn service members who died during the war.
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