HE BRAVELY GAVE HIS LIFE
FOR THE CAUSE OF HIS COUNTRY
BORN DEC 28, 1896 DIED OCT 2, 1918
Private Joseph Quadri of Brooklyn was killed in World War I. His body was transported to the United States on the transport ship Princess Matoika along with 417 of his fellow fallen comrades in arms and ten fallen nurses.
The gravestone marking his grave features a mourning figure bent in despair and sorrow looking at the image of a doughboy, possibly in the likeness of Private Quadri. The willow motif on this gravestone is not unusual; in fact, the willow is one of the most common symbols found in American cemeteries. What makes this willow special is that it is carved in a three dimensional form draping the top of the stone in willow branches making for a dramatic memorial.
The secular meaning of the willow symbolism represents what one might expect; sorrow and grief, it is after all a “weeping” willow. However, in Christian symbolism, the willow represents immortality because of the tree’s ability to shed so many limbs and survive.
Willow trees, especially the weeping willow, may also be symbolic of death. The cascading appearance of weeping willow branches brings to mind the flow of tears and is therefore associated with sorrow and loss. Willow trees are traditionally planted in graveyards; in the Middle Ages it was common to place a willow branch inside a coffin to ward off evil spirits. A Greek goddess often associated with the willow tree is Persephone, who rules the Underworld during the deathlike winter and then arises to rule the fertile spring. From this connection, one may infer that willow trees represent not only death, but the cycle of life.
Hi! This is actually my great-great uncle’s headstone, and his father (Victor) actually designed carved it himself. The image is, in fact, his likeness, and it was carved from memory. I just thought I’d share. My second cousin did a lot of family research a while back and has a whole book of pictures and letters documenting Joseph’s time in the war, his death, his father’s sculpting career, and this beautiful memorial that resulted. Thanks so much for posting this.
Thank you so much for that piece of family history. The medallion bas-relief becomes so much more special knowing that his father carved it, his last act of love for his son.