First in a series
By M.E. Jones
When a local GWOT (Global War on Terror) veterans' group was formed about a year ago, it drew members from the Pepperell VFW, whose inclusive membership network extends beyond town borders to include other area communities.
The organization's wide draw fit the new group's dedicated goal: To create a monument on the local homefront for GWOT veterans, a unique "band" of foreign war veterans, living and deceased, from communities throughout the Nashoba Valley who carved their own niche in history and deserve recognition for their service.
With $10,000 raised to begin with, an estimated total of about 10 times that much is needed to complete the project. The monument is to be placed on a grassy spot at the Pepperell rotary. It will incorporate design features that represent the unique environment in which military men and women served overseas, specifically in Afghanistan and Iraq, during the post-9/11 military initiative that former President George W. Bush called "The Global War on Terror."
Designed by sculptor Lee Rich, who came to the group via Dario Design in Marlborough, the granite monument's carefully chosen symbols are quietly arresting, poignant, simple, the outcome of the artist's conversations with the veterans sponsoring the work and inspired by their stories.
Imprints of combat boots in a triangle of concrete "desert sand" are pointed toward home, represented by a pole-mounted flag of the United States of America at the top of the triangle, maybe paired with a POW flag.
The triangle centers a five-pointed star, symbolizing the five branches of the U.S. military.
With the star installed at ground-level, a raised wall completes the monument, featuring the life-size, cut-out form of a combat soldier in profile and a map outline in partial relief: Iraq on one side, Afghanistan on the other. Viewed from either side, the soldier is marching away from each of those countries, headed for home.
If the group, now incorporated as a nonprofit organization, can raise enough money and spark some interest among area GWOT veterans and their families in joining the effort, the monument they envision will be a lasting tribute to those who served overseas in the "war on terror" launched over a decade ago and now officially ended.