RSS
 

Mail Bag! David Rocco & Sean Flynn Memorial Stone at Westchester, New York!

22 Mar

David Rocco writes to us and tells of an amazing discovery he made at a Westchester, New York park while visiting the Trail of Honor there. He wrote 3 times to tell the story.

David Rocco:

Hi D,

The reason why I reached out to you was that I came across a small memorial stone / monument honoring Sean Flynn at a Westchester County, NY park.

The stone has a small bronze plaque with a brief description regarding Sean Flynn. The monument was located at the entrance area of the magnificent “Trail of Honor” which is located at Westchester County, NY’s Lasdon Park. Lasdon Park is located in Katonah, NY. The Trail of Honor is a winding hilly circular pathway that is adorned with a number of bronze busts atop four foot high stone bases representing an American servicemen and women who served in all our wars and conflicts going back to the Revolutionary War.

Just so you know, I too am a freelance photographer. Maybe this is why I was compelled to follow up on Sean’s background and reason for this monument.

I have seen this small monument before and was a bit surprised to see this here since I assumed that the Flynn’s live somewhere in CA. I went to the park again yesterday to take updated photos of the busts for an upcoming story that I am working on regarding Memorial Day. I consider the Trail of Honor a hidden gem that many people are not aware that it existed.

Last night after downloading the images from my memory card, I decided to look up Sean’s background. My God, as a straight man I have no problem stating that Sean was a great looking man. Why should that surprise considering who his father was and how pretty his mother was.

Attached are photos of Sean’s monument and the Trail of Honor busts. I also included a few extra images of larger than life statues of a wounded GI being carried by another one with a nurse running to their direction. Awesome statute.

My simple question to you is, do you have any idea what is Sean’s connection to this area and who would do this wonderful gesture? I am working on my end to get these answers, but with the coronavirus situation, it hasn’t been easy to reach people in the know.

My best,

David Rocco


D,

I will do my best to try and get the background behind the monument. I found out yesterday that it wasn’t just the monument but the planting of the tree as well to honor Sean’s memory.

I also found out earlier today that the tree has contracted a disease and will be replaced with the same species, a Turkish filbert, Corylus corluna, sometime this year. The person who I spoke with today has reached out to the county and the Friends of the Lasdon Park organization to see if anyone can come up with info regarding Sean Flynn’s monument. Sean Flynn’s monument is part of the “Tree of Honor Trail” which also has monuments honoring MLK and JFK as well as others.

Next time I go back to Lasdon Park, I will check out the tree trail.

I started a timeline based on some of the research that I conducted so far to try and ascertain when the tree and monument were placed at Lasdon Park.

For starters, Lasdon Park was originally a farm before being turned into a country retreat for the rich and famous from NYC. In 1936, William Lasdon bought the house and property for his family as a summer retreat. Mr. Ladson made his money in the pharmaceutical manufacturing area. In 1976, William Lasdon set aside 22 acres of land and created the Mildred D. Ladson Bird and Nature Sanctuary.

Mr. Lasdon passed away in 1984. In 1986, Mrs. Lasdon and her daughter Nanette Laitman, sold the property to Westchester County Parks for the purpose of keeping this property out of the hands of developers. In March of 1997, Mrs. Lasdon passed away. Later that year in October 1997, a group of Boy Scouts from White Plains, NY, created the Trail of Honor for their Eagle project. My first visit to Lasdon Park was in the spring of 2000. That’s the first time I came across Sean’s plaque.

Based on this timeline, the monument and tree were placed at Lasdon Park sometime between 1986 when Westchester County Parks took ownership to the property and the spring of 2000 when I first came across Sean Flynn’s monument. Once I hear back from the park personal who offered to help, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

My best,

David Rocco


Hi D,

As you can see from the photos that I attached, the monument and tree are located at the beginning of the Trail of Honor. However, the park info sign creates a distraction for people passing Sean’s monument. The other problem that I noticed was the fact that the monument inscription faces away from the pathway which prevents visitors from seeing it. When visitors enter the trail of honor pathway, they are most likely captivated by the six flags attached to their respected poles and miss Sean’s monument altogether. Each flag represents our six branches of the armed services. From my perspective, whoever went to the trouble to honor Sean’s service and memory never truly got their money’s worth for their generous and thoughtful act.

I went back over to Lasdon Park the other day to take photos for you and Rory to see how beautiful Lasdon Park is. Despite being the tail end of winter, this place is still very special. Westchester County Parks has numerous beautiful parks throughout the county, but from my understanding, Lasdon Park is their crown jewel.

I took photos of the Lasdon Park starting from the main gate entrance and important locations throughout the park. The starting point for the Trail of Honor and Sean monument and tree, the conservancy greenhouse, the main house and guest house which is now being used as a gift shop.

I said to myself while I was there, that since they are going to uproot this sickly tree sometime in the near future and replace it with another one, maybe this is an opportunity to move Sean’s monument closer to the pathway, but this time, position it so that it faces the pathway. For whatever reason the monument was placed in this location a number of years ago sometime before the Trail of Honor was created and developed. Was it by coincidence or a planned event knowing that someday soon, a Trail of Honor would eventually be placed there?

Yesterday I went back again to Lasdon Park to introduce myself to the new Park Manager.

Lovely young lady who just started this position three months ago. She was recruited by Westchester Parks from the amazing Bronx Botanical Gardens. During our conversation, I asked her that since they would need a back hoe to replace the injured tree, that meant Sean’s monument would have to be moved out of the way so they could perform the tree transfer. She agreed with my assessment. I then asked her, since this is the plan of action, perhaps this an opportunity to move Sean’s monument closer to the pathway so that it would be in a more conspicuous location, allowing passersby to take notice and appreciate the significance of this monument. She said absolutely!

Once I know when this operation takes place, I will let you know.

When this transfer is completed and the corona virus situation settles down, maybe we could organize a monument dedication ceremony and bring the rightful attention to Sean’s contribution to the war effort? If you are uncomfortable with any of this, please let me know. The last thing I want to do is upset Rory.

I would like to share with you a bit of my background.

I have a passion and a proven track record for doing the right thing and correcting oversights or injustices when it comes to our Veterans and historic preservation locations. As for the Veterans, I believe since they did so much for us, this is the least that we can do for them.

I was the person who was behind the War of 1812 Trail of Honor bust at Lasdon Park, a key member of a group of people who revitalized a former historic railroad bridge into a multi use walkway for public use, rebuilding a historic fire tower on Mt. Beacon which is 55 miles north of NYC and discovering the important fact that two Navy planes crashed on Mt. Beacon, a mountain range adjacent to the Hudson River, just thirty miles north from my house.

The first crash occurred in 1935 where two reservists lost their lives and the second one took place on November 11, 1945. In this crash, six men lost their lives including Navy legend Dixie Kiefer. We call these men, the Mt. Beacon Eight. They were forgotten by some and unknown to most. I and a group of friends took it upon ourselves that this wouldn’t be the case. With the help of several sources, we purchased two historic markers and placed them at each crash site on Mt. Beacon. (1100” & 1500’up) We then purchased a granite plaque to honor all eight men which was placed at the local municipalities Veterans Park.

Now everyone , including several family members that have contacted me can make either of these hikes, so here is a place where all eight men are honored together and their family members can pay their respects. One lady who contacted me a couple years ago, was the daughter of one of the six from the 1945 tragedy. She was just 13 months old when her father was killed. Obviously at that age, she never knew her father. She is coming up from Virginia for a ceremony that is scheduled this November for the 75th anniversary of the crash that took her father’s life. She is deeply touched and forever grateful for our efforts.

Aside from the photos of Lasdon Park, I attached some photos of the Mt. Beacon Eight story and an excellent NY Times article that gives some background regarding our efforts to honor these eight men.

My best,

David Rocco

Lost in the Woods – NY Times Article -Word Doc

 

Thanks, David … very much appreciated and we look forward to your updates!

David Rocco is a freelance Photographer and co-author of the book The Indestructible Man: The True Story of World War II Hero “Captain Dixie” available on Amazon.


 

— David DeWitt

 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. Gentleman Tim

    March 23, 2020 at 7:17 am

    What GREAT research, David Rocco!

    And what a GREAT mystery!!
    Can’t wait to see who paid for Sean’s tribute!

    Report this comment

     
  2. Ralph Schiller

    March 23, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    Thank-You David Rocco or this great story. My guess is that Lili Damita is behind the monument. David will get to the bottom of it though. Ralph Schiller

    Report this comment

     
  3. Gentleman Tim

    March 24, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Could be, but Lili died in March of 1994, and the Trail wasn’t dedicated until October 1997.

    Report this comment