Memorial Day 2018 And How We Remember Our Fallen Ancestors
Although Memorial Day has passed, the actual memorials of many Italian Americans who bravely served our country proudly stand day-after-day in various places throughout the United States. The photos in this post depict most of the memorials that I have encountered in various Italian neighborhoods in the United States over the last several years of my travels.
Now that most of us are back at work and the BBQ and pool photos have winded-down in our news feeds from the long weekend, please take the time to read these names to perhaps identify family friends or relatives and if you can, say a brief prayer for these young men who laid down their lives right out of high-school so that we may have the freedoms and luxuries that we often take for granted.
Photos of Memorials By Location
On Federal Hill, there is a memorial for P.F.C. Louis Tocci who was killed-in-action in the Korean War:
This next memorial is located in the former Italian enclave of Bridgeport, Connecticut at the shrine of Saint Margaret. Aside from this shrine being a breathtaking place to visit because of the powerful religious imagery, there is a beautiful memorial to the local fallen:
The following memorial is located on the site of Our Most Precious Blood church and rectory on Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s “Little Italy.” Currently, the memorial has fallen into poor condition where the names are barely readable. These photos were taken by me in 2012. Hopefully this piece can be restored but if not, this can serve as an eternal memorial:
In Brooklyn’s former Italian Enclave of Canarsie, this veterans memorial generally gives thanks and appreciation to their fallen:
The following memorial is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Long Island’s St. Rocco’s parish in Glen Cove, New York:
In Baltimore’s Little Italy, there is an incredible memorial dedicated to the fallen young men of St. Leo’s Parish from both world wars seen below:
In St. Louis, the Italian Enclave referred to as “The Hill” has a humble dedication to their fallen:
In West Paterson, New Jersey, there is a dedication to Sgt. John Zambrano who lost his life at the famed “Battle of the Bulge:”
In Brooklyn, one of numerous Italian Enclaves that existed was in Gowanus. On the border of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, Gowanus is a small neighborhood onto itself in which one of the oldest Italian National Parishes still stands replete with a memorial to the fallen boys from the neighborhood and parishioners of Our Lady of Peace:
The Church Of The Transfiguration in Boston’s North End has a beautiful honor roll citing the names of the parishioners who perished in World War I:
Corona, which is in New York’s borough of Queens, there is a street named for “Marlon A. Bustamante.” Marlon was killed in action on February 1st, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. He was assigned to the Army’s 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. Marlon was 25 at the time of his passing:
Bushwick was once a thriving Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and one of its central institutions was Saint Joseph Patron Church. On church property, in the rear of the church’s yard, there is a memorial and shrine to Our Lady memorializing the fallen from this neighborhood and Parish:
Along Court Street in Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, New York, there is a familiar site outside of Saint Mary’s Church. This memorial is dedicated to the Church’s fallen youth who died during World War 1. Although the church was founded as an Irish parish, the constituency in the early 20th century became predominantly Italian.
Brownsville, one of many Italian neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York, still has this memorial at the former cite of the Our Lady of Loreto Church. This Church was one of the first Italian National Parishes in New York and was built by Italian immigrants. Her fallen during World War I and World War II are commemorated in this beautiful tribute still on Sackman Street despite the church’s being torn down:
In the formerly thriving Italian Enclave of Worcester, Massachussets, there is a memorial dedicated to the area’s fallen soldiers connected to the Parish of Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel who died in World War 2. The church has been closed and is slated for demolition:
In Mount Vernon, New York, which is technically Westchester but some still refer to it as the Bronx, there is a memorial dedicated at the closed church of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel. This church has been closed for some years but the grotto and memorial are still maintained:
The Mission: To Enlighten and Preserve
Initially, I was naïve enough to assume that visiting each Italian neighborhood in America would be something that I could wrap-up in a couple of years on the weekends in between raising a family and a career in finance. When reality set in, and I realized that my commitment would be more like a lifetime’s work, I made sure to capitalize more on my travels by taking my time to document as much as possible in an unparalleled contribution to future Italian Americans.
I very much anticipated taking photos of businesses, churches and yard shrines as well as feasts. A common denominator that I did not expect to find between many Italian neighborhoods in the United States was the dedication that many Italian parishes and their neighborhoods exhibit to the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for America in the bloody wars of the 20th century.
As we see our Italian parishes closed and our neighbors move away from our Italian Enclaves, we should never forget those who laid their lives to protect this great land and her inhabitants. The efforts on the battlefield and the home front should never be forgotten. As Italian Americans comprised over 10% of all fighting men in both World Wars, the Italian American contribution was not just limited to those wars. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan saw hundreds of thousands of brave Italian Americans as well.
Creating a master list and archive of photos for each war memorial dedicated to Italian Americans is a work in progress since I know of many more monuments and memorials that are not included in this post. I will continue to travel to these memorials in order to photo document them and give these men an online memorial space forever. Please e-mail any suggestions that you may have because as the sand in the top of the hour glass dissipates, we run the risk of these memorials being removed or forgotten forever and with them, our knowledge of the great sacrifices laid forth by our brave ancestors.
Please e-mail any suggestions to Info@ItalianEnclave.com