Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Release #137-01

Contact: Peter Fenty
(212) 788-2958


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and The Coalition for Father Duffy today rededicated the Father Duffy Memorial in Times Square in a ceremony marking the 130th anniversary of the cleric's birth. A new historic marker designed by the New York City Parks Department was also unveiled near the bronze memorial statue of Lt. Col. Francis Patrick Duffy, an inspirational World War I hero who became a charismatic community leader in New York City in the years after the war.

Joining the Mayor at today's rededication ceremony were Joseph A. Healey, former Commanding Officer of the 69th Regiment, Commanding General of the Rainbow Division and Co-Chair of The Coalition for Father Duffy; William T. Kenny, Chair of the Memorial Foundation of the Rainbow Veteran's Association and CO-Chair of the Coalition for Father Duffy; Henry J. Stern, the New York City Parks Commissioner; and Rev. Peter M. Colapietro, Pastor of Holy Cross Church. The 69th Infantry Battalion Color Guard, Regimental Piper Joseph Brady, and the New York City Police Department Band also attended the rededication ceremony.

"When this site was first dedicated in 1937, New Yorkers took note of the special role that Father Duffy played both here in the City and abroad," Mayor Giuliani said. "Father Duffy was widely recognized as one of the true heroes of that time - both for his courage and valor, and for his deep devotion to his faith. Time and development have, unfortunately, obscured the solemnity of that earlier event, and of what this statue symbolizes to those in the military and to the faithful. It is, therefore, altogether fitting that we gather on this auspicious occasion to remind today's generation of an earlier time, when great men made great sacrifices for the betterment of us all."

During the rededication event, Mayor Giuliani assisted with the unveiling of a new historic marker that will be affixed near the statue of Father Duffy. The rededication event was designed to help restore the dignity and respect of the Father Duffy Memorial, which is located on a .706 acre park, between West 46th and West 47th Streets, Times Square. The TKTS booth also shares the park.

General Healey said, "Last year, I was honored to stand alongside the Mayor and members of the Theatre Development Fund to announce that a new design -- by two talented Australian architects -- had been selected for the TKTS booth which stands on Duffy Square. The design was chosen because it is extraordinary and beautiful, but also because it puts Father Duffy front and center. Simply put, it respects Father Duffy. Next year on May 2nd, as we celebrate the 65th anniversary of this great monument, I hope to be back here with private citizen Giuliani and members of the TDF to celebrate TKTS' grand opening."

The marker reads in part, "In (sculptor) Charles Keck's bronze effigy of the soldier-priest, he depicts a stoic Duffy, nearly eight feet tall, in military garb, helmet at his feet and Bible in hand. The statue is set on a pedestal backed by a green granite Celtic cross, which is more than 17 feet tall… For decades, Keck's portrait of Father Duffy has enthralled millions of visitors to this hub of Manhattan and is a permanent reminder of the local hero who ministered in the decidedly secular world of Times Square."

As regimental chaplain of the 69th New York Infantry, known as the "Fighting 69th" and one of the most famed regiments in United States Army history, Duffy became a highly decorated soldier, receiving medals from France and the United States. In 1937, five years after his death, Father Duffy Square was dedicated. His heroic life was immortalized in the classic 1940 war film, "The Fighting 69th," in which Pat O'Brien portrays Father Duffy. The movie also starred James Cagney.

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