KATONAH, N.Y. – When Boy Scout Aidan Cryan first pitched his idea to build a war memorial at Katonah’s historic Village Green, many told him it was an impossibility. Luckily for Aidan, he was too naive to know any better.
The 15-year-old John Jay High School student has spent much of his Scouting career envisioning and developing the war memorial, which will honor those who saw active duty in all American wars and conflicts post-World War II.
“He’s had this idea for several years because he would always march in the Memorial Day parade and he realized the last memorial to honor any veterans was actually World War II,” said his dad, Bill Cryan. “So, there’s nothing for the Korean vets, Vietnam vets, not to mention any of the Middle Eastern conflicts or [Somalia].”
Aidan, a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 1 in Katonah, said he’s actually been thinking about creating a new war memorial since he was in Cub Scouts. The war memorial is being completed as part of his Eagle Scout service project and has been in development since August 2015, he said.
“There’s a lot of people I knew who were veterans,” Aidan said. “This was an easy choice, really. I just wanted to show my appreciation.”
For years, Aidan has been meeting with various veterans organizations to design the memorial in a proper and respectful way. He’s met countless times with government agencies, elected officials and advisory boards, culminating in the project’s approval by the Bedford Town Board on Tuesday, March 6.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Aidan said. “There’s a lot of bits and pieces that go into this type of stuff.”
Bill said others have had similar ideas for a war memorial over the years, but those “died on the vine.” He praised his son’s persistence in seeing the lengthy project through, despite the many hurdles.
“The last year or so—it changed a bit, the scale got reduced, the location changed,” Bill said. “This is maybe the best civics lesson that my son could have gotten.”
The memorial will include a brick plaza, 12 feet in diameter; a granite block in the center, 4 feet in diameter; and a plaque, 6 inches tall. The Town Board approved the project on the recommendation of the Katonah Historic District Advisory Commission.
“Situating the memorial on the island south of Lawrence Circle, opposite the library, both recognizes its importance as a memorial to all modern wars not acknowledged in the existing monuments on the Katonah Green, and provides a bookend to the area around Lawrence Circle by balancing the Civil War Memorial located on the island immediately to the north,” wrote Deirdre Courtney-Batson, chair of the commission. “This also preserves the green character of the remainder of the Katonah Greens, as envisioned by their original design, and as such, the commission supports and recommends that the remainder of the Katonah Green be maintained as open green space.”
Now that the memorial has been approved, it’s time for fundraising. Bill said the cost of the project will be about $30,000.
“It’s pretty exciting because it looks like it’s going to happen and it’s going to be somewhat of a substantial addition to the fabric of the town,” Bill said.
For more information or to contribute to the project, email Bill Cryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.