Battery Park, a twenty-five acre stretch of land within 175 Battery Place, is most notable for its various memorials and statues, serving as testaments to past historical events of significance to the American people. A site where anyone and everyone can journey to and observe the different tributes to people long since deceased exhibited in the park. One particular piece is the East Coast Memorial, which has served as a memorial to the many lives lost during World War II. More specifically, it commemorates the 4,609 American servicemen that died in the western waters of the Atlantic, particularly during the Battle of the Atlantic, and whose names are inscribed on eight granite slabs of the memorial.
Historically, the Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continual military campaign during World War II, with the American blockade of Germany, and Germany’s counter-blockade setting the stage for a series of back-and-forth naval attacks. The British depended on more than a million tons of imported goods in order to barely survive and fight, and with German U-boats having sunk merchant ships attempting to gain access to Britain, the Allied felt it necessary to counter it with their own defensive blockade and go on with funneling material goods into Britain, though it came with a price: 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk compared to the loss of 783 U-boats on the German side.
The United States had played a major role in World War II, perhaps even one that could’ve changed the course of history. Had they not gotten involved, the world would most likely be different today. This memorial serves as a thanks to the American soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the very freedom that Germany and the Axis powers wished to do away with in their rise to power. The Battle of the Atlantic is one of the most memorable battles that took place, with a high death toll and in defense of another country that could no longer sustain itself. These people’s names are etched into stone so that they may live on in our memories and so that anyone that wishes to pay their respects to them can do so with no hindrance.
The statue itself is a large, bronze eagle with its wings spread out, facing the direction of the Statue of Liberty, symbolizing that Americans represent freedom and liberty no matter where they are in the world, and that they will fight the good fight until the very end. A prayer in inscribed into the stone below the eagle, praying for the many Americans in service to the United States whom had given their lives for their country. This monument is one of many war memorials dedicated to all who fought for the freedom of others.
The bronze eagle appears fierce, representing that though grief is welcomed, the friends and families of the victims should be proud of their servicemen who gave everything for a worthwhile cause, and that they will not be forgotten anytime soon. The pillars stand in front of the eagle, nineteen-feet high, in two columns, with all the names of those confirmed dead and went missing over the course of World War II, and every name is given equal attention to detail after having been carved into the stone.
The architects of the memorial was the company Gehron and Seltzer, and the sculptor was Italian-born Albino Manca who crafted the eagle in its current pose of ferocity and might. A symbol of America’s commitment to democracy and equality, the eagle is America embodied, spreading that same freedom to places where it doesn’t exist, and fighting off the evils of tyranny and oppression around the world, as it did during World War II in the face of Nazi Germany and the Axis powers.