Being in Brooklyn

Jason Castillo




Brooklyn is filled with many areas that have great historical value and meaning. Most of these areas have various overlaps that can help as analyze them in a different way and understand their importance to the community of Brooklyn. My location is the Brooklyn War Memorial located in Cadman Plaza Park. The process to arriving here is very simple. First exit City Tech on Adams Street, then make a right and walk to the end of the corner. Make a left onto Tillary Street and walk about 50 feet, then cross the street and enter Cadman Plaza Park where after walking straight you will find this significant monument in the middle of the park. At this location I see various things. I see a big monument with two statues on each side of a huge wall. The statue on the left is of a male warrior and the one on the left is a female holding a baby while in the middle of the wall there is an important message in scripted. My photograph captures this entire memorial as a whole including the steps and grass that lead up to it. It captures my juxtaposition of celebrated and forgotten because while the grass and steps leading to the statue look to be in great condition, the words are barely visible which means maintenance of the statue may have been forgotten.

A juxtaposition is the fact that two things being seen or placed together with contrasting effect. There are two major elements in the juxtaposition are celebrated and forgotten for this specific location. The first element is the celebration of this location. The meaning and celebration of this location is what allows there to be a juxtaposition. The celebration of this location is to stand and honor the men and women who gave their lives during World War II from 1941 to 1945. This is shown in the inscription placed in the middle of this memorial yet the words are barely visible. The inscription states “THIS MEMORIAL DEDICATED TO THE HEROIC MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN WHO FOUGHT FOR LIBERTY IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR 1941-1945 AND ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO SUFFERED AND DIED MAY THEIR SACRIFICE INSPIRE FUTURE GENERATIONS AND LEAD TO UNIVERSAL PEACE.”[1] This memorial was created to forever hold in honor those who gave their lives in the wall, their lives were intended to be celebrated. The second element in this juxtaposition is forgotten. In my photograph there is no one around it showing how forgotten this memorial has become. The faded inscription shows the city has shown no interest to better that and make it more visible for the people of Brooklyn. You would expect that they would be clear to read considering the important meaning behind it. Has the city giving up on showcasing this memorial? Why has it lost interest?

I chose this location and its juxtaposition because it caught my eye on my walk in Brooklyn. I chose it for personal admiration for history and the way it interests me. I saw how it was specifically dedicated to the victims of World War II that were from the Borough of Brooklyn and the statues around it showed clearly that was the purpose of the memorial. I wanted to be able to analyze it even closer on why there’s the juxtaposition of celebrated and forgotten for such an important memorial which has a grand meaning. The story of the memorial tells me that the men and women of Brooklyn played a heroic role in World War II and that their lives should inspire future generations and eventually lead to universal peace.

Colson Whitehead states in City Limits “They are a part of the city we carry around”. This relates to my juxtaposition of celebrated and forgotten because at one point my location was celebrated and looked up as something huge for the city. As the years went by it wasn’t celebrated as much but whatever person that witnessed this memorial and spent time analyzing what it represent would surely carry this part of the city with them. The evidence lies in the fading of the inscription and how steps to preserve it were clearly not taken. Now a days you don’t really see people celebrating this memorial as much as when it was once celebrated. At times when you’re at this location, you still witness some people admiring it and others just bluntly ignoring it. This is where the celebrated and forgotten comes in play because although it’s still standing not everyone celebrates it or forgets it. Whitehead also states “Seek ourselves in this city each time we reminisce about what was there fifteen, ten, forty years ago, because all our old places are proof that we were here.” This relates to my location because this memorial was dedicated 62 years ago in 1951. Some people who once celebrated this memorial can probably still seek themselves in this monument because they were present at one point which is proof that they were a part of this city. Others who probably weren’t present when this monument was a big deal probably don’t reminisce as much as other people would because although they might have seen it in the past, they don’t care about it as much. This is what brings out the celebrated and forgotten.



[1] “Cadman Plaza Park.” Monuments. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2013.

Tags: Group D