Many military heroes have been born in or lived in New York. One of the most unusual and the most heroic was Father Francis Duffy who’s statue dedicated is in Times Square. He stands, dressed in military garb before a large, 17ft tall celtic cross. It’s a permanent monument to the much loved chaplain to the New York’s proud and famous ‘Fighting 69th Regiment’ during World War 1.
Duffy is the most decorated Chaplain and most decorated National Guard chaplain in American military history. For his work supporting his regiment in WW1 he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State), The Legion D’Honneur and the Croix De Guerre, both from France. So powerful was his role in leading supporting his regiment that the overall military commander considered putting him in charge of his regiment.
During WW1 the ‘Fighting 69th’ New York regiment became the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Father Duffy gained a his reputation during the war for his unstinting support of the men, appearing beside them in the thick of battle to supply any support he could, accompanying stretcher bearers to bring back wounded soldiers and always going above and beyond in any way to support the needs of his soldiers.
All his life he demontrated great compassion for others and a fierce commitment to speaking and writing theological truth as he saw it. He was without doubt a forceful yet humble man. It sometimes got him into trouble with a Church that leaned heavily on orthodox interpretations of the church’s role in society until well after Duffy’s death. After he returned from the war he continued to carry out pastoral duties in NYc until his death on June 27th 1932.
Though born in Canada, Duffy came to NYC for further education in his early 20′s and never left. He was a leader, inspiring and supporting others throughout his whole life. His statue is sited in Times Square because ffter his return from the war Father Duffy ministered to the people who lived and worked the theater district. After his death a committe was formed to establish a permnent monument to him and the statue, which you can go and see in times Square is the result.