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| ||VETERANS MEMORIAL FLAGPOLE |
Veterans Cemetery, Spring Grove Cemetery
41 Hecker Avenue
Noroton Heights in Darien, CT
Dedicated: May 30, 1936
Type: Group of four limestone (?) figures
Sculptor: Karl F. Lang
Height of sculpture: 10', 3"
VETERANS MEMORIAL FLAGPOLE, Noroton Heights in Darien, is significant historically because it is a symbol of respect and honor paid to those who served in several wars. In this capacity, it is the centerpiece of a veterans' cemetery of 2,184 graves. The cemetery is near the former location of the Fitch Home for Veterans and Their Orphans at Noroton Heights, Darien (see RETURNED SOLDIER, Rocky Hill). The monument is part of a record of more than a century of community respect and service to veterans.
The sculpture was commissioned by the PWAP (Public Works Administration Program?), thought to be a county program related to the Federal Public Works Administration (Darien Historical Society letter of May 24, 1994).
VETERANS MEMORIAL FLAGPOLE is significant artistically because it is figural sculpture of soldiers executed in a manner different from that commonly found in the sculpture of Civil War monuments, the hiker of the Spanish American War, or the spirit of the American doughboy of World War I.
The usual Civil War-monument soldier figure stands in a static pose, dressed in overcoat with one foot forward and musket held in front with both hands on the barrel. The usual Spanish-American War hiker portrays the action his name implies, striding forward in a realistic manner. The World War I doughboy also is often realistic, heavily encumbered with such details as barbed wire and hand grenade. These Darien figures are different in that they are both static and realistic. The Civil War soldier in the group has more rounded realism and contemporary feeling than his forebears, but is in the traditional pose with his right hand on the musket barrel. The Spanish-American War serviceman here is a sailor, while the doughboy is different from usual in a manner corresponding to the Civil War soldier's differences.
Karl Frederick Lang (Carl Lang) (1897-1952) was a German native who lived in Darien. He worked with Gutzon Borglum for five years at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, and in Georgia. The Darien Historical Society letter dated May 24, 1994, gives further details of his career. For other flagpole war memorials (not of the Civil War), see World War I Memorial, New Haven, and Torrington War Memorial, Torrington.
VETERANS MEMORIAL FLAGPOLE is a group of four sculpted soldiers from various wars, four-sided, from which the high steel staff rises to support the flag. Dedicated to all veterans, the monument is in a circle of grass and shrubbery at the intersection of roadways in the cemetery. The approach from Hecker Avenue through the arched gateway to the cemetery leads to the memorial.
Veterans Cemetery is adjacent to and visually part of Spring Grove Cemetery. There are 2,184 interments at Veterans Cemetery.
Evergreen shrubbery around the memorial has grown 4'/5' high, obscuring views of the base and of the lower parts of the figures.
The square base of the sculpture is of the same kind of stone, tentatively identified as limestone, as the four figures that stand on it, and may be literally cut from the same piece. In any event, the base is an integral part of the composition. Twenty-one inches high, it has partially chamfered corners, which are embellished with a raised diagonal rope motif.
The figure facing west over the 1861 year date is recognizable as a Civil War soldier, but is not the "at rest" static sculpture associated with the usual Civil War monument. As with the other figures in the group, he has a contemporary look, perhaps in the social realist style. The modelling is more rounded, the detailing less incisive than in the typical Civil War soldier. Nevertheless, his rifle butt is between his feet perpendicular to the direction of the feet and his right hand is on the barrel. He wears trousers and a composite jacket, with no overcoat, and waist belt. The details are not in accordance with any drill manual, but perhaps can be said to be artistically conceived. His left arm and hand are straight down. The face, clean shaven, is turned in profile to the left. He wears a kepi.
The World War I doughboy, facing south, wears wraparound leggings, breeches, jacket, and ammunition belt. His right hand is over his head, his left down to the side. Clean-shaven and wearing a World War I helmet, he looks straight ahead.
The 1898 (east) figure is a sailor, instead of the usual hiker memorialized in many Spanish-American War monuments. An anchor is at his feet. The left arm and hand are straight down, with the right bent at the elbow and forearm horizontal at the waist. He wears a kerchief around his open collar. The clean-shaven face is turned in profile to the right, under a seaman's cap. The symbolism of the fourth figure is not clear. Not in uniform except for his ammunition belt, he wears long pants and open shirt with sleeves rolled up revealing muscular biceps in arms crossed in front of his chest. He is clean-shaven, looking straight ahead. An arrow lies at his feet.
In April 1994 the sculpture was carefully cleaned by use of bristle brushes, both hand and rotary.
North face of base, incised caps:DEDICATED / TO THE / VETERANS / OF THE / NATION
Darien Historical Society, letter, May 24, 1994, and attached fact sheet.