A stolen and vandalized World War I monument in Bed-Stuy’s Saratoga Park was restored Wednesday, thanks to the help of some local politicians.
“It was my pleasure and honor to have participated in [this] very moving unveiling of the restoration of the 1921 monument,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy, who represents the area in City Hall and helped coordinate the movement for the monument’s restoration. “I jumped at the opportunity in being able to collaborate and fund the restoration of this tribute to our soldiers.”
The sculpture was originally cast by Italian-American sculptor James Novelli (1885-1940) to honor the heroic soldiers who served our country from the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, and commemorate those who gave their lives through combat during the first World War. But the ‘honor rolls’ of the original work vanished some four decades ago (on September 24, 1970), and the sculpture was itself was stolen on April 20, 2000, essentially destroying the monument.
While the original cost of erecting the monument was only $5,500, restoration proved much costlier.
“Renovations ended up costing $350,000, which I earmarked for the project through my Capital budget to NYC Parks & Recreation, in order to both restore the legacy of the monument and improve the grounds of Saratoga Park,” Mealy said.
The unveiling took place on the eve of the 13th anniversary of September 11th, and on the afternoon before President Obama addressed the nation on the precipice of another potential conflict.
“This wonderful project which showcases the importance of paying homage to our veterans and highlights the legacy of our soldiers past, present and future,” Mealy added in conclusion. “It is my hope that those who partake in the Saratoga Park Square going forward and pass this majestic monument will take pause, reflect and continue to honor those whose names are engraved on the monument as well as those who presently serve our country with pride and honor.”