The Five Freedom Trees were donated and
planted by the Danbury Garden Club as part of the "Plant a
Living Legacy Project", 1991 through 1995. The trees
commemorate both the anniversary of the U.S. Bill of Rights and the
ratification of the Constitution. They are living tributes to those
who organized and defended our first government. The trees are
monarch pears and white magnolias. The Danbury Garden Club has been
in existence since 1952 and continues to promote an interest in
horticultural and sponsor civic projects.
The Steve Landry Tree
The first tree is dedicated in memory of Steve Landry (1960-1994).
Landry was a graduate of Texas A&M University majoring in
landscape architecture. During Steve's struggle with AIDS, his
father, Chuck Landry, became a long-time benefactor of the AIDS
Project of Greater Danbury. This organization donated and planted
the tree so that the memory of Steve's life may live on. The AIDS
Project of Greater Danbury is a non-profit organization founded in
1987. Its mission is to advocate for and provide supportive services
to people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and loved ones.
The Bryon T. Johnson Tree
The second or middle tree is dedicated to Bryon T. Johnson
(1915-1988), Danbury's Tree Warden for thirteen years during the
1970's and 80's. Johnson graduated from Danbury schools before
attending the University of Massachusetts. He was involved in many
civic activities and served as president of the Lion's Club and the
local chapter of the American Red Cross. Johnson served in World War
II with the Army Corp. of Engineers.
The Edward J. Crotty Tree
The third tree is dedicated to Edward J. "Copper" Crotty
(1912-1988). Crotty, born in Danbury, was a graduate of Danbury High
School and Notre Dame University. He taught and coached at the
university level before returning to Danbury in 1947 as the High
School's head football coach where he created a legacy of success
that culminated in a 72-9-4 record upon his retirement in 1979. In
addition to receiving numerous awards and recognitions for his
dedication to the city's youth and athletics, Crotty also served as
Director of Danbury's Parks and Recreation Department for 31 years.
The Historical Milestone
The Historical Milestone was originally
placed in 1787 by Major William Taylor in front of his house which
stood on the War Memorial grounds. In an attempt to recoup his
fortune lost to battle in the Revolutionary War, Major Taylor
converted his home into an Inn primarily for people traveling
between New York and Hartford. This was a trip that could take three
days at that time. As the milestone indicates, the Taylor Inn was
nearly equidistant to both cities and must have been a welcome
resting spot for weary travelers.
In 1951, Memorial Drive, the road leading through Roger's Park was
built and the mile stone was removed to the yard of the Scott-Fanton
Museum at 42 Main Street. Members of the Mary Wooster Chapter of The
Daughters of the American Revolution found the Milestone several
years later and erected it on the front lawn of the War Memorial
building, several hundred feet east of its original site.
The Vietnam War Monument
In 1957, Communist-led guerrillas began a
campaign of sabotage and assassinations in South Vietnam. American
aide to South Vietnam increased through July 1965, when the first
U.S. troops were sent into battle in what would be our country's
longest war engagement in history. At the peak of conflict in the
late 60's early 70's, 500,000 Americans, mostly 18 to 22 years old
were involved in a fierce jungle war with the tenacious Vietcong
(Vietnamese Communists) whose guerrilla tactics of sabotage and
torture became notorious. Complete withdrawal of U.S. troops
commenced in March 1973, only after more than 46,000 Americans and
250,000 Vietnamese lost their lives in a fight for freedom.
To honor the Vietnam veteran in general, and in particular to
commemorate those killed or missing on action, New Fairfield Vietnam
Veteran Marine Corporal Richard Cacace began efforts to plan,
construct and dedicate a monument that would pay a lasting special
tribute to the courage and compassion displayed by the U.S. forces
in Vietnam. Five years later, at a dedication ceremony on May 29,
1988, the Vietnam War Memorial was unveiled.
Unlike most war monuments that celebrate the glory of war for
freedom, this monument was designed and sculpted by George Koras as
a statement of compassion - a monument to humanity - to acknowledge
the Vietnam veteran in his or her role of protector and liberator of
a people under scourge. As such, an eight foot tall bronze statue of
a combat soldier stands at the top of the monument carrying a small
child in one hand and an M-16 rifle in the other. It has been
suggested that all observers should spend time looking into the
combat soldier's eyes and facial expression, where the sculptor put
most of the his efforts, to see the struggle in his heart that had
all servicemen fighting a savage war while remaining humane and
compassionate to those in need.
The six foot high granite base below holds a bronze plaque honoring
Danbury-area veterans who died in combat or are missing in action.
The right wing of the base features a medical evacuation scene,
while the left wing depicts Vietnam service medals and a map of the
First Lieutenant Lee R. Hartell
This memorial commemorates Danbury's Lee R. Hartell, who was
killed in battle in 1951 during the Korean War. For his bravery and
courage, First Lieutenant Hartell was posthumously awarded The
Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military
recognition. He was the first and only Danbury Veteran to receive
this prestigious award in the post-Civil War era.
During the darkness of early morning on August 27, 1951, the North
Koreans launched a ruthless attack against Hartell's Company B of
the 9th infantry Regiment on a rugged mountainous ridge near
Kobangsan-ni. As a forward observer, Hartell directed crippling fire
into the onrushing assailants. A large force of hostile troops
swarmed up the slope in a banzai charge, advancing within ten yards
of Hartell's position. Despite sustaining a severe hand wound in the
encounter, the vastly outnumbered Hartell maintained his position
and made radio contact with his Company. As the enemy advanced
further, Hartell's final radio call relayed the position and size of
the attack to the just moments before he was mortally wounded. The
bravery and devotion that cost Hartell his life allowed Company B to
stem the onslaught.
When Hartell's remains were returned to Danbury, the entire city
observed a memorial hour. Schools and businesses were closed, flags
were flown at half mast, and citizens paused in a respectful
tribute. The memorial was originally placed on White Street's
connector to Crosby Street, which was renamed Lee Hartell Drive. In
1997, with the permission of Hartell's widow, the memorial was moved
to its place between the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials.
Additionally, there is a photograph of Hartell prominently displayed
in the lobby of the War Memorial building.
The Martin Rader Oak Tree
In 1965, Danbury Attorney Martin Rader was nominated as a
delegate to the third Constitutional Convention in the state's
history. Such conventions are held infrequently and have the
potential power to change the constitution by which the state
During the convention, Rader was presented with a seedling from
Connecticut's original Charter Oak, the states most historic tree.
Upon returning to Danbury, Rader presented the seedling to the
Danbury Garden Club who nurtured it through the winter and planted
the four foot sapling in the Spring of 1966.
The history of the original Charter Oak began in 1687 when
Connecticut Governor Roger Treat received word from the King of
England that Connecticut would be under siege if the state's charter
was not surrendered immediately. Governor Treat called an assembly
together and placed the Charter on the table. A debate regarding how
to respond to the King continued until evening when candles were
Suddenly the lights went out and during the confusion, Captain L.D.
Wadsworth silently took the Charter and hid it in a hollow in the
famous "Charter Oak tree". Two years later, the Charter
was restored to the government and the process of freedom proceeded.
The Oak Tree plated here, a direct descendent of the famous Charter
Oak, is symbolic of the strength and continued good government of
the state of Connecticut.
The Korean War Monument
On June 25, 1950, Communist North Korean
armed forces crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea in a
full scale war of aggression, determined to place the entire Korean
peninsula under their control." Three years later a cost of
more than 41,000 dead, missing in action or accounted for U.S.
troops, an armistice was signed, establishing the boundary line
between North and South Korea at the 38th Parallel, the point of the
This was the first time in history that the United States of America
joined together with the other members of the Unites Nations
Security Council to repel communist forces anywhere. By many
accounts, this "forgotten war" was a war with
unprecedented costs and importance in which we turned the tide
To commemorate this tremendous sacrifice, and as a lasting
expression of gratitude and pride, the Korean War Monument was
dedicated on the front lawn of the War Memorial on July 25, 1993,
the 40th Anniversary of the armistice which ended the conflict. At
the dedication ceremony, the prevailing message among both the
speakers and the audience was the Korean War veterans had not been
recognized by the Danbury community for their service and sacrifices
with an enduring symbol. To that end, the monument is the
culmination of four and a half years of planning and construction
coordinated by the Greater Danbury Area Korean War Veterans
Committee at a final cost of $80,000.
Designed by local artist Mark Roy Swenson and sculpted by George
Koras, the stone is made of polished India black granite. It was
quarried in five individual sections at a total weight of 20,000
pounds. As you face the monument, the left wing contains the names
of Danbury area military personnel killed or missing in action
during the war.
The right wing contains a brief review and statistical sketch of the
war. It is also adorned with replicas of the United Nations and
Korean Service Medals as well as the emblems of the five United
States military organizations that participated in the war.
The center pillar is 8 feet tall and is capped with a 54 inch bronze
eagle resting on a half globe. An eagle was chosen because so many
different types of people - soldiers, sailors, nurses, doctors -
served in Korea that no one human figure could adequately honor all
the various service personnel. Below the eagle on the center pillar,
there is a three dimensional hand-etched map identifying towns and
battle sites. All engraving on the monument was done through a
technique called "skin frosting", which produced a white
image on the black granite. A bronze dedication plaque is located
directly in front of the center pillar.