The beloved G.I. Joe of New Brighton

The beloved G.I. Joe of New Brighton

There’s a young, lone, rifle-bearing man who has stood tall and fierce in his combat boots from the Battle of the Bulge since 1946.

He was adopted by the young men from New Brighton, Staten Island, as a symbol of freedom and a remembrance for their brothers and friends who didn’t return from World War II.

On a four-sided cement podium they placed him on, the names of the 28 men are written in stone.

For 38 years, he lived outside a local gas station where he watched his neighborhood grow and change. He’s seen the good and the ugly.

It wasn’t long before vandals used him as their target practice, placing him in harm's way.

He was welcomed with arms wide open by a local American Legion post, who gave him a new home for the next 28 years.

He might have been safe, but there was only one problem. He was now hidden from the public eye, with an unknown future.

Veterans overcame with outrage and soon went to war for another battle. It wasn’t a bloody battle, but rather a battle to find this young man a new home.

The fight to preserve the freedom of their beloved country and the remembrance of the men and women who made sacrifices in their neighborhood helped them seek victory.

The young man now lives in the same park where the men from World War II used to play as children, where he stands behind a secured green fence and American flags surrounding him.

Some call this young man nothing more than merely a statue. But to veterans of the war and their families, he has a name.

His name is G.I. Joe, and he is finally home.