Lifsitz playground has seen some action since I first wrote about it in June 2013. The Canul family in Los Angeles contacted me to say ‘thanks’ for remembering Mortimer. That’s my favorite part .. connecting with the relatives. The old playground equipment was painted last year by a volunteer group; basketball players continue their workout on an antiquated court; it was getting mowed pretty regularly and even had a short commercial filmed there. In 2015, it’s been listed on the ‘for sale / reuse list’ by the city. When the perfect buyer appears, this memorial park will disappear. Mortimer’s memory will live on as an archival file and in the Jewish War Veteran’s Golden Book which features the Jewish Detroiters who were lost in WWII.
Dear Mrs. Lifsitz :
Your son, Private Mortimer N. Lifsitz a member of Company “B”, 116th Infantry Regiment, has been awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his outstanding actions against the enemy.
The citation for his heroic deed follows:
Private Mortimer N. Lifsitz, 116th Inf, U S Army for gallantry in action against the enemy in Germany. On 17 November 1944, the advance of Company ‘B’, 116th Infantry was suddenly halted by decimating enemy fire. Seeing that the majority of its leaders had become casualties, Private Lifsitz attempting to lead assault, jumped to his feet and calling on the men to follow, started forward on the run. While charging toward the enemy positions, Private Lifsitz fell mortally wounded by enemy fire. Private Lifsitz lost his life in this encounter but in doing so displayed such personal courage and tenacity in the face of great danger that he materially influenced the results of the encounter. His actions reflect great credit upon himself and the Military Service.
The officers and men of the 116th Infantry Regiment have lost not only an excellent soldier but a friend as well. It is for the comrades and officers of Private Lifsitz to carry on the fight which certainly must bring ultimate victory over an enemy which has for so long brought misery and destruction upon the world.
Private Lifsitz will not be forgotten, nor will the supreme sacrifice made by him. In all sincerity, the officers and men of the 116th Infantry Regiment extend their most heartfelt sympathy.
Sidney V. Bingham Jr.
Lt. Colonel Infantry Commanding
Mortimer Lifsitz was born on a Wednesday and died on a Friday. He was a Central High School graduate and worked in his father’s furniture business before enlisting. The only child of Max and Sophia. Military records show he was previously wounded twice before he met death in battle. His military decorations include: The Silver Star, Purple Heart and an Oak Leaf Cluster.
I have to check my notes but I do believe that at one point apartments were on the south side of the street and the park was just on the north side side of Gladstone.
SIGNS OF LIFE
The memorial playfield that commemorates Lifsitz’s leadership reaches down both sides of Gladstone Avenue west off Linwood in the heart of Detroit. No signage, fences, or markings remain at this site. The play area is marked by a few pieces of old equipment; a bit of the basketball court, and a makeshift brick bench. While visiting there in late winter/early spring, we ran into a few ring necked pheasants returning to their nest. A good sign. A few years back, neighborhood residents turned this block long park into a giant community garden; a bright spot in a somewhat hard place, just like Morty.
I appreciate your readership. thanks ag
Photo courtesy of Temple Beth El / Franklin Archives.
Copyright 2013 – Andrea Gallucci. All Rights Reserved.