PEPPERELL - After years of planning and fundraising, the town's monument to the service members who fought in the Global War On Terror finally stood at attention on Veterans Day
It is the first phase of an elaborate memorial.
The eight-foot-tall granite monolith near the town's rotary has cut from its middle the image of a geared-up soldier marching. As the sun catches the voided space, that marching soldier's shadow projects onto the ground. Surrounding the spectacular central slab is an array of five diamond-shaped stones, each emblazoned with the seal of a branch of the U.S. military.
The $200,000 cost is being raised by the Middlesex GWOT Trust, a nonprofit organization loosely headquartered at the town's VFW. Chairperson Jean Murphy Connolly said the group needs to raise $30,000 more. Pavers and bricks will be sold for $75. They maybe custom-engraved with the name of a local veteran. Pavers will be laid into the floor of the circular patio.
The individual bricks, 4 inches by 8 inches, or the larger pavers, $1,000 each at 12 inches square, are available for purchase until Feb. 1.
Other funding came from local businesses, whose company name is written onto one of the five stone benches around the patio. Connolly emphasizes that the bricks can be purchased for any veteran, not just the post-911 operations.
Connolly's son, David, a veteran of the Afghanistan theater, came up with the idea.
"I heard him (David) and some of his friends talking about it one day," she said of the initial idea, which surfaced more than five years ago. "I decided to spearhead it to make it become more than just an idea. All we want is for them not to be forgotten."
Scheduled for completion in late spring, Connolly hopes to have an official ceremony on June 6, 2019.
"There is a lot we could be doing right now'" she said. "But the weather has not cooperated."
Getting discounted prices from local contractors has also helped launch the project. "We have had great support from the town," she said. "They donated the land to us."
She downplays her role in the project as merely clerical, "It is not about me," she stressed. "It is for the men and women who served, both from our community and across the nation."
Originally designed to sit due north/south, the center stone was pivoted slightly to offer higher visibility for drivers who pass through the rotary.
Cut and carved in Vermont, the stone was set in place by local companies, including Leominster Monument Company in Lunenburg, which will make the benches, pavers, bricks and cornerstones.
To donate or to purchase
a brick, visit the Middlesex
GWOT website or Facebook