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Clinton War Memorial

Clinton War Memorial in DeWitt Clinton Park in NYC

Clinton War Memorial in DeWitt Clinton Park
W. 52 St. To W. 54 St., 11 Ave. To 12 Ave.
Manhattan, NY 10019
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Located at the southeast corner of De Witt Clinton Park, this poignant monument is the work of sculptor Burt W. Johnson (1890–1927) and architect Harvey Wiley Corbett (1873-1954). It was commissioned by the Clinton District Association as a memorial to the young men from the neighborhood who died in World War I, and it was dedicated on Armistice (now Veterans) Day, 1929. The monument consists of a pensive infantryman, known as a “doughboy,” who holds poppies in his right hand and whose his rifle is slung over his left shoulder. The granite pedestal is inscribed with a the above verse, taken from the famous poem by John McCrae (1872–1918) “Flanders Field.”

The origins of the term “doughboy” remain in question. It was first used by the British in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to describe soldiers and sailors. In the United States the nickname was coined during the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), and was widely popularized during World War I (1914–1918) to refer to infantrymen. After the war, in which Americans saw combat in 1917-18, numerous communities commissioned doughboy statues to honor the local war heroes. The Clinton War Memorial’s doughboy is one of nine such statues erected in New York City’s parks.

Burt Johnson studied with sculptors James Earle Fraser and Louis Saint-Gaudens, brother of the renowned artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Receiving many public commissions from coast to coast, Johnson also created the doughboy statue for the Woodside Doughboy (1923) in Doughboy Park in Queens. This statue was dedicated on November 11, 1929, before “comrades and friends,” two years after Johnson had died. In 1997, the sculpture was conserved through a project jointly sponsored by the Times Square Business Improvement District and the Mayor’s Office of Youth Employment Services.

The Clinton War Memorial is also the location where the annual In Flanders Fields Memorial takes places in honor of Memorial Day. To learn more email 2014-18@flandershouse.org.

For more information on other World War I Memorials throughout NYC Parks visit: http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/veterans.