Scarsdale’s Memorial Garden sits astride the Scarsdale Pool and the Crossway fields, but have you ever ventured in? You will find that it is not an immersion in memories, but in history.
The Memorial Garden was created by Post 52 of the American Legion, established in Scarsdale in 1919. The American Legion itself had been established only earlier that year, in Paris.
We are pleased to note that yes, this year is Post 52's 100th anniversary.
Post 52 first met in the central Village's Harwood building until 1949, when new quarters were established on Mamaroneck Road in a former horse stable.
Much of the land around the Tudor-style building was sold to build the Scarsdale Pool in 1967 and later, KIDS Base and the Little School. Some of the windfall from those sales was allocated towards the full realization of the Memorial Garden, which had originally been established in 1954.
Designed by a local architect and Post 52 member, the new Garden opened in 2002. It includes lists of local veterans, and plaques from all major wars and conflicts, from the Revolutionary War till the present. In fact, its September 11th memorial was the first in New York State. The plaques do not simply memorialize but educate, including on the role and sacrifices of Scarsdale residents. The Garden's opening was quite an occasion, attended by many dignitaries and even by the United States Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Band, which had traveled from Washington D.C.
Scarsdale's Memorial Garden is listed in the United States Forest Service's Living Memorials Project.
Despite its proximity to so much activity, the azaleas and dogwoods have grown, and the Garden is a quiet place. It surprisingly is not visited by Scarsdale school children. Perhaps that will change. On this Memorial Day and every other, the Garden is open and waiting.
Meanwhile, take a virtual tour...
Flanders Fields, a poem from World War I, is on a Garden plaque:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
There is of course another war memorial in Scarsdale at Boniface Circle. The World War II memorial was paid for by public subscription and completed in 1946. It was sunken so as not to obscure the vision of drivers; one wonders whether Maya Lin did not take inspiration from it in her later design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. At the Memorial Day ceremony that year, Mayor H. Beach Carpenter said, of the names on the memorial's honor roll, that only a few years before these were "carefree youngsters strolling through our Village streets with schoolbooks under their arms."
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We are indebted to Post Commander Tom Adamo, who provided us with nearly all the materials used in this article.
The picture of the Post 52 building is used with permission from the Scarsdale Public Library.
Photographs of the Garden were taken by Lee and Miles Fischman. It is a special place to visit with your child.
The archives of the Scarsdale Inquirer provided invaluable context on the history of Post 52 and the Memorial Garden. Local journalism must be supported - subscribe!
Quote and background on the Boniface War Memorial was obtained from Scarsdale: From Colonial Manor to Modern Community by Harry Hansen – Copyright 1954 by the Town Club of Scarsdale.