It should come as no surprise that New York state has a dim view of guns, but that attitude is infiltrating other aspects of life to an extreme. In order to avoid the risk of “offending” someone, the Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee recently rejected a $150,000 funding request to expand the DeGlopper Memorial Park in Grand Island, N.Y. The expansion calls for including a statue of Charles DeGlopper firing a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).
The rejection came as a surprise, because the Niagara River Greenway Commission last year supported the concept of funding the memorial park’s expansion. “For us to hear that we did not get one dollar, is a huge disappointment," Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray told a local radio station after the standing committee’s decision.
Expansion plans envision flags, monuments to soldiers from Grand Island, N.Y., and a 7-foot-tall statue of DeGlopper, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously after his heroics during the D-Day invasion. DeGlopper’s platoon got separated from the rest of the company. As the platoon moved to rejoin their fellow soldiers, DeGlopper stayed behind and used a BAR to fire suppressing to protect his comrades.
“Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans, and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright,” the Medal of Honor citation reads.
Lest you think it’s a stretch to blame political correctness and anti-gun attitudes for the rejection, consider that Sierra Club Niagara Group Conservation Chairman Larry Beahan wrote an op-ed last November in which he decried the idea of the statue. Beahan has the responsibility in the club is to ensure that Greenway spending is appropriate. In his opinion piece, written to influence the Greenway Commission’s decision, Beahan likened DeGlopper’s gallantry to the heinous actions of a mass murderer, comparing him to the Las Vegas shooter and referring to the automatic BAR as the “AR-15 of its day.”
Beahan later went so far as to tell The Buffalo News, after the standing committee’s rejection, “Let's not make our kids worship heroes who are killing people.”
But saner voices have raised objections in support of the statue. Rus Thompson, a Grand Island businessman and an outspoken advocate for gun rights, was quoted in the same article as saying, “They didn't fight this war with sticks; they fought them with guns and they had guns right back at them. That's how he was killed.”
The backers of the statue have made some inroads in the funding fight. No doubt as part of an effort to repair its image, New York has since tried to atone for the standing committee’s misguided stinginess, awarding $100,000 toward the project in late May. The upgrade is projected to cost $750,000.