'Lone Sailor' could guard Inner Harbor

The Baltimore Sun

A memorial honoring "the men and women of the Sea Services" could take shape on Baltimore's Inner Harbor shoreline if city officials agree to the plan and sufficient funds can be raised.

Directors of the Constellation Museum have been working with a national group of naval veterans to obtain city permission to place a memorial on at Pier 1 near the Constellation to honor personnel from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

The memorial would be one of a dozen around the country that feature the same statue, titled The Lone Sailor, by Stanley Bleifeld of Weston, Conn.

The two nearest to Baltimore are at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. in Washington and in Norfolk, Va. A second Bleifeld sailor statue, Homecoming, has been installed in four U.S. cities.

In each case, the memorials are intended to honor "the men and women of the Sea Services - past, present and future," according to the Web site Navyme morial.org. The Lone Sailor represents "all people who ever served, are serving now, or who are yet to serve in the Navy and other sea services."

The memorial is one of two changes under consideration for the Inner Harbor setting for the 1854 vessel. The other change is an overhaul or replacement of the Constellation's 1991 visitors center, which has been criticized for blocking views of the vessel, the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy.

Christopher Rowsom, executive director of the Constellation Museum, a division of the Living Classrooms Foundation, said his organization has been working with a group called the Navy League to explore adding the memorial.

He said the statue can help underscore Baltimore's ties with the U.S. Navy: "There's a Naval Reserve station next to Fort McHenry. Naval vessels were made for years at the Key Highway shipyard. Baltimore is known for the Liberty ships" that supported the naval services in World War II.

At the same time, the statue could make it clear to visitors that the Constellation is an authentic Navy vessel and not a replica or stage set.

"Some people think it's a pirate ship," he said. "Our idea was to make [the pier] more Navy-appropriate, if you will."

The bronze figure would be slightly larger than life-sized and is expected to cost upward of $200,000, not counting installation. It represents a young sailor standing by a duffel bag. The statues in other cities have become destinations in themselves, advocates say, drawing people who come to have their photos taken or hold ceremonies next to them.

The first one was placed in Washington, on Oct. 13, 1987, prompting requests for others. Founders envisioned The Lone Sailor as "a senior second class petty officer who is fast becoming a seagoing veteran," according to descriptive material on the Web.

Rowsom said fundraising would begin after his organization and the Navy League know whether the city will provide land. He said he was meeting this week with representatives of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, which has a key role in approving statuary on city-owned land. Other city agencies will also have to review the plan.


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