Friday, January 19, 2007

Father Francis P. Duffy: OMOM Essay 27

"About the Sculpture" for Duffy is another exercise in determining the theme of a sculpture from its details. I also comment on the change in the subject and spirit of war memorials from the Civil War to the Viet Nam War, which I've discussed at greater length in my podcast on Battery Park war memorials.

From high school I had a basic knowledge of the causes of World War I, and from wide reading since then I knew it was considered "the war to end all wars." But I never grasped the horrors that faced soldiers there until I read Father Duffy's Story (1919) as research for this essay: bombs dropped from airplanes, chemical weapons that blinded and suffocated, plus sweeping epidemics of influenza, mumps, measles, etc., that killed thousands as they lay in the trenches or makeshift hospitals. The Sidebar of Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan is Duffy's description of men stricken by mustard gas.

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