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UPDATED: Vets call for reopening of Downtown monument • Brooklyn Paper

UPDATED: Vets call for reopening of Downtown monument

Sun salute: Ted Bourne and his daughters, from left, Stella and Fiona soak up the sun in Green-Wood Cemetery during the Memorial Day parade on May 25.
Photo by Josiah Shelton

They want to keep the memory alive.

Borough Hall is pledging $1 million to help rehab the Cadman Plaza World War II Memorial, Borough President Adams announced on Wednesday, after veterans launched a campaign to renovate and reopen the long-shuttered monument. Vets and park activists kicked off the fund-raising effort during a ceremony at the site on Sunday, and one Fort Greene vet said the move likely cornered the borough’s pols into helping to restore the shrine to Brooklyn’s fallen warriors.

“It’s about time somebody did something,” said Roy Vanasco, who served in the Navy in World War II and lost many friends to combat. “For 20 years I’ve been asking politicians and they promise, but nobody ever committed. I think we trapped them on Sunday, and now they’re going to do as much as they can.”

Dedicated in 1951, the Cadman Plaza monument includes a memorial hall in which the names of the more than 11,000 Brooklynites who fell in World War II, but that section has been closed for 25 years due to a lack of funds.

Vanasco is part of an effort to raise $1.5 million towards the restoration. The money will pay to make the bathrooms wheelchair accessible and build an elevator, but the structure also needs stone work, a new roof, new electric wiring, new plumbing, new windows, insulation, and more renovations for accessibility, according to the group’s crowdfunding page.

The Beep’s pledge, which remains subject to the City Council’s approval of the citywide budget, would pale in comparison to the sacrifices made by Brooklyn’s vets, Adams said.

“Americans can sit under the tree of freedom because it has been watered with the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers,” he said in a statement. “It is a small thing to do for the great sacrifice of the over 11,000 Brooklynites that gave their lives during World War II.”

Roy Vanasco attended the ceremony last Sunday with his brother Jack, who served in the Pacific from 1945 to 1947. Jack Vanasco, who grew up in Fort Greene and still lives there, said he wants nothing more than for people to be able to see the wall engraved with the names of the men he grew up with who sacrificed their lives in the war.

“Twenty-five, 30 of the guys we grew up with and played ball with never made it back,” he said. “We miss those guys, and it would be nice if you could go in there and see their names.”

The group of local officials who showed up for the ceremony proved the Vanasco brothers have a point. In addition to Adams, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Williamsburg), Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), and former Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon all turned out to honor the sacrifice by Brooklyn’s veterans.

You can donate to the effort by visiting the group’s crowdfunding page at www.gofundme.com/rh8rpk.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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