A bronze eagle monument set amid a new granite courtyard will beckon visitors to the re-dedication of the Westchester County Veterans Museum at Lasdon Park in Somers.
The ceremony will take place on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18, beginning at 3 p.m., at Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial.
"The newly renovated museum and the eagle sculpture are wonderful and well-earned tributes to our warveterans who have served our country in the past and present," County Executive Robert P. Astorino said in a statement. "The eagle is our country’s national symbol, and having this beautifully sculpted bronze eagle as part of the museumreminds us all of how hard the brave men and women work every day, and have worked through the ages, to defend our freedom."
Originally established in 1995, the museum is the only Westchester county-owned museum dedicated toveterans. The building and surrounding grounds have recently undergone renovations that include painting, new signage and a handicapped-access parking area, along with new landscaping.
The bronze eagle, called the Tribute Eagle, is perched on a stone monument in the courtyard at the entrance to the museum. The eagle was commissioned by the board members of the museum as part of the renovation project.
It was created by wildlife artist Mike Curtis of Idaho, himself a veteran, and who is considered the foremost sculptor of this national symbol of America.
"We have at least 65 bald eagles that live in the mountains and fly down to fish in the lake below,” said Curtis. “I’m an Army veteran myself, so this project at Lasdon Park is close to my heart. I feel honored to have been asked to do this “Tribute Eagle” for the veterans of Westchester County.”
The eagle sculpture is two/thirds life size with a 4 ½ foot wing span and weighs in between 60 and 70 pounds. Sculpted in soft clay in the artist’s Idaho studio, the eagle was cast in a foundry in Portland, Oregon, using an ancient technique known as “lost-wax casting.” The entire process took about six months from start to finish, according to Curtis.
Inside, the museum features “Wartime in Our Parks,” an exhibit of vintage photographs and historical commentary that depicts the ways in which Westchester County parks figured into past wars. Visitors will discover which parks provided areas for training drills for local militia, as well as the effects of war on the parks system. A collection of artifacts, such as uniforms and helmets, is also on view, along with a video commentary that depicts local residents recounting their wartime experiences from World War II to the present.
The Westchester County Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes and Drums will perform at the dedication ceremony, and various military vehicles will also be on site.
While at the park, visitors are invited to shop the annual Friends of Lasdon Plant Sale, which will also be held at the park that day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sale features unique plants and shrubs, perennials and large and small hanging baskets, along with vegetables. The Shop at Lasdon will also be open, with its inviting selection of horticulture-related gifts and seasonal plants for sale.
All proceeds from the plant sale and shop benefit arboretum programs.
Plant sale visitors can also purchase gardening tools and gifts at the Shop at Lasdon, as well as stroll the paths of the arboretum to enjoy the colors and fragrances of the gardens at the peak of their spring bloom.
Admission and parking for the Plant Sale and re-dedication ceremony are free.
Sponsors of the Tribute Eagle project include the Friends of Westchester County Parks, Inc., the Friends of Lasdon Park and Arboretum, and the Ninth District of the New York State Federated Garden Clubs, along with the Westchester County Veterans Agency and Chapter 49 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Contributing sponsors are American Petroleum and Equipment Company, Carmine Serpe, Hilburn Granite, Pepsico, Pete Montelone Construction, Savatree, Inc., The Shade Store and West-Fair Electric.
The museum will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial is a 234-acre horticultural park owned and operated by Westchester County Parks. It is located on Route 35 in Somers and can be reached from routes 684, the Saw Mill River Parkway, and the Taconic State Parkway.
For more information, call Lasdon Park at (914) 864-7282.