Freedom Trees 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.
Memorial Trees 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
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 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
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
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 country.
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
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.
Corporal Nathan E. Hickok
Hickok, a Danbury native, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Civil War for capturing a Confederate battle flag.
In 1861, Hickok, 22, volunteered to serve in the Union Army. He was assigned as a sharpshooter to Company A in the 8th Connecticut Infantry. In June of 1864, Hickok was transferred to a new unit composed entirely of sharpshooters, who fought with new Sharp rifles that allowed them to fire repeatedly far more often than soldiers with muzzle-loading muskets.
Sharpshooters were at the forefront of any battle. This was true at the battle at Fort Harrison, on Sept. 29, 1864 - the day that secured Hickok's place in history. The Union attack on Harrison, which is about eight miles southeast of Richmond, Va., began at 5:30 a.m. with the sharpshooters leading the 8th and 21st Connecticut regiments. Hickok and his group had to run across about a mile of cleared land leading up to the fort. The Union soldiers were facing about 22 units of artillery firing multiple kinds of shells from the front and sides, about 4,000 Confederate soldiers in the fort firing their rifles at the oncoming troops, and fire from gunboats on the James River from both sides. To take the fort, the Union soldiers had to cross a 10-to-20-foot-deep dry moat. Soldiers found the other side so steep that many stuck bayonets in the ground to create footing to scramble up the other side, all the while being shot at. Then the soldiers had to climb a huge dirt hill called the Great Traverse the Confederates had built to protect the fort.
Today, there is a plaque at Fort Harrison that has a painting of the battle on it showing a Union soldier, possibly Hickok, holding the Confederate flag while another soldier plants the American flag on the Traverse.
Hickok's last battle was the Second Battle of Fair Oaks in Virginia where the sharpshooter regiment suffered 40 percent casualties. He was made a sergeant when he captured the flag.
It is believed Hickok died that day because, though Union records list him as "wounded and captured," there are no Confederate records of him as a prisoner of war. If Hickok did die there, he was probably buried in an unmarked grave.
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 operates.
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 lit.
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 initial
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 against Communism.
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.
The Merchant Marine Monument
The Merchant Marine monument is meant to initiate a greater public understanding of those who delivered materials across every ocean during the most difficult and dangerous of times.
The Merchant Marine lost a higher percentage of its members than any branch of military service during World War II. Merchant Mariners were responsible for providing supplies to the troops during the war including everything from tanks and ammunition to food and medical supplies.
Over 1,500 U.S. ships were sunk in World War II. These men suffered the highest U.S. casualty rate of the war, with one in every 26 dying. The U.S. Marine Corps was next, with one of every 34 dying. Most mariner dead were blown to death, incinerated, froze or starved to death in prison camps.
Over 12,000 were wounded and 700 were prisoners of war.
Of the 250,000 Merchant Mariners who served, many were too young for the armed forces, too old, or declared physically unfit. Many had one eye, one leg, yet honored the call to serve their nation.
Veteran status was never granted until 1988 by Congress, even though more than 500 Merchant mariners are buried in our national cemeteries in the fields of France.
The monument was dedicated on August 15, 2010 and was one of the first in the state dedicated to the men and women who served with the Merchant Marine.
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.
2019 Upcoming Ceremonies & Events
Maine Day Ceremony, Friday, February 15th at 10:00 am at the Monument on the corner of West St. & Division St.
Vietnam Memorial Service, Friday, March 29th at 10:00 am at the Vietnam Monument in Rogers Park.
Veterans Walkway of Honor, Monday, April 22nd, final brick
order cutoff date. No other brick orders will be taken after
Memorial Day Parade, Monday, May 27th starting at St.
Joseph's Church at 6:30 am. Wreath laying following Church service. The parade steps off promptly at 9:30 am.
Korean Memorial Ceremony, Saturday, July 27th at 10:00 am at the Korean Monument in Rogers Park.
World War II Ceremony, Thursday, August 15th at 10:00 am in the Rose Garden at Rogers Park.
Vietnam Moving Wall Ceremony, Tuesday, September 24th at 10:00 am in front of the War Memorial Building.
Veterans' Day Ceremony, Monday, November 11th at 11:00 am in front of the War Memorial Building.
Pearl Harbor Day Ceremony, Saturday, December 7th at 10:00 am inside
the War Memorial Building.
From New York
Interstate 84 - Exit 5
Straight through stop sign to traffic light
At light take right onto Main Street
Follow to end
Last light on Main Street straight into Rogers Park
War Memorial is the first building on left
From Hartford/New Haven
Interstate 84 - Exit 5
Take right at light onto Main Street
Follow to end
Last light on Main Street straight into Rogers Park
War Memorial is the first building on left
The Danbury War Memorial was built in 1951 and was
designed and built in honor of the men and women who fought in
World War I and II. Just after World War II ended, every
morning, students at Danbury High School put their pennies and
nickels in a pot to fund a memorial to honor those who so recently
served their country.