NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dozens of World War II veterans were honored in Brooklyn on Sunday as a local effort got underway to try to reopen a historic memorial.
To launch the effort, veterans received awards from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Cadman Park Conservancy, WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola reported.
"(How much does this mean to you?) Unbelievable," said Max Nemerovsky, a WWII veteran from Bensonhurst.
"It's great to think people are still thinking of World War II," said David Epstein, a WWII veteran from Bergen Beach.
"I was the one who was honored to serve," said WWII veteran David Kaplan, of Brooklyn Heights.
Kaplan, 95, served in the Army at 22, stationed in the Pacific and Philippines, CBS2's Ilana Gold reported.
"We were faced with a terror that was unbelievable, the threat of Nazism among others," he said.
And Sunday's event went beyond remembrance. The goal now, is to reopen and completely restore the Brooklyn War Memorial, which is currently not handicapped accessible.
"To open this and make it ADA accessible so people can actually see it," said Laurel Brown, with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
Inside the building at Cadman Plaza Park are the names of 11,000 men and women from Brooklyn who lost their lives in World War II. But the building remains closed to the public.
Push Begins To Restore Brooklyn War Memorial
Roy Vanasco, along with his brother, has been decorating the memorial with flags every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Kosola reported.
"We could get millions of dollars from foundations, from anybody, to get this here building in shape," Vanasco said.
The Parks Department has set aside $3 million, and there is a GoFundMe campaign with the aim of raising $1.5 million. But complete restoration would take tens of millions of dollars, Kosola reported.
Former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden said members of the military in World War II were told they would not be forgotten.
"I will raise money and do the rest of what is necessary , along with the veterans organizations, to see that ultimately there is a private institution that takes over for the job of running this museum," he said.
So far, community groups have raised nearly $2,000 to rebuild the war memorial. Supporters said they're hoping to get it back open by next Memorial Day.
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