Last February, a drunk driver with a minivan knocked a World War I memorial 10 feet off its base in Troy Hill’s business district and ruined it.
The incident sparked conversations throughout the city about memorials, where they were and what repairs they needed.
City Council President Darlene Harris had the city front the money to repair the Troy Hill memorial before the insurance check came. When it did, the money was used to pioneer a new initiative to catalog and maintain the city’s memorials.
“It just looked awful. Flags were just sitting there; some were up, some down,” she said.
With the funds used to reimburse the city, Harris along with Elks Lodge #339, The Northside Leadership Conference, The Heinz History Center, a number of community groups, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland and many other community groups decided to start an initiative to make the city responsible for the cataloguing and maintenance of war memorials.
The original ordinance called for the entire process to be completed by September 2010. Now, over a year after the original call for action, the Mayor’s office has come on board with the initiative.
The project began with City Planning and Morton Brown created a website (http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/warmonuments/) where community members can fill out a form regarding memorials in their area, including location and many other details. City spokesperson Joanna Doven said the deadline for submission is September 1, 2011.
This initiative hits close to home for many war veterans living in the city and around Allegheny County. A staff member of the Elks Lodge #339 and American Legion #81(formerly #681) and a member of the memorial initiative, Joe Brown wants to make sure that Pittsburgh residents, especially Northsiders do not forget about this initiative. His organizations are actively involved with Harris on this project.
“This is something that has been forgotten about for too many years,” said Brown. “This is an ongoing process and we need the public to be involved.”
Brown said that the initiative would not only look to restore war memorials, but would extend to memorials for emergency service workers. Whereas the larger monuments on the North Shore already have maintenance provided, smaller and often private memorials are not receiving proper care.
According to Morton Brown, City of Pittsburgh Public Art Manager, one of the main problems with keeping an accurate record of memorials is that prior to the creation of the Public Art Manager position in 2007, the Department of Public Works only kept track of memorials it had a direct hand in creating.
The goal of this project is to compile athorough a list and allocate the care and maintenance of memorials to the proper place. No public meetings have been scheduled at this time.
Check out a few of The Northside’s notable memorial, and comment to let us know about more.
Hampton Battery Monument-West Park
The original monument was erected in 1871 and it’s in West Park, and restored and rededicated by the city in 2001. It has the names of the soldiers in Pennsylvania Independent Light Artillery Battery F, who fought in Gettysburg during the Civil War.
Korean War Veterans Memorial – North Shore
This elaborate monument was dedicated in 1999 and commemorates the loss of soldiers in the Korean War. Pennsylvania was the state with the second largest amount of soldiers lost. The memorial is designed to catch sunlight and articulate aspects of the human spirit, experience and feeling.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial – also along the North Shore
Another North Shore Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial’s canopy ceiling and wind chimes signify prayers for the dead, and represents a desire for peace. It was dedicated in 1987.
Fallen Officers’ Memorial
Though not a war memorial, this statue commemorates local police officers who have lost their lives in the service. It was erected shortly after the slaying of three police officers in the Spring of 2009.
This article was changed to reflect new information regarding the Troy Hill memorial incident 7-21-2011.