Vermont dedicates memorial to soldiers who served in war on terror
Alison Redlich, The Associated Press
People attend the dedication ceremony for the Vermont Global War on Terror Memorial on Veterans Day at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center, Vt. The memorial recognizes Vermont soldiers and Marines who have died as part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BY LISA RATHKE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2010
RANDOLPH CENTER — Martin Fortin rubbed his hand back and forth across his son’s name etched in the granite.
Like others who paid tribute to Vermont’s fallen soldiers and Marines on Veterans Day, Fortin considered the new memorial deeply personal. It honors Vermont service members who’ve been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s sad that so many lives have been given already from this state,” said Fortin, of St. Johnsbury. His son, 22-year-old Army 2nd Lt. Joseph Fortin, was killed Aug. 23, 2009, in a bombing near Baghdad.
This Veterans Day, Vermont dedicated a new Vermont Global War on Terror Memorial to all the state’s service members who have served in war since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and their families.
The memorial is at the state’s veterans cemetery in Randolph. It was a project of the families of war casualties created so that “our heroes were never forgotten,” said Marion Gray, stepmother of late Army National Guard Sgt. Jamie Gray.
The $350,000 granite monument was built using private donations of money, material and services.
“It’s beautiful,” said Paula Chapin of Proctor, whose husband, Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Chris S. Chapin, 39, was killed in 2005 near Ramadi, Iraq.
The memorial dedication, which included photographs of the fallen service members and a rendition of taps, also brought back painful memories.
“It’s like it was yesterday,” Chapin said.
The idea of a monument grew from a trip the families of fallen soldiers had taken to Washington to honor all the country’s fallen heroes from all wars.
“That trip made us realize how much we needed each other, that we could lean on each other, knowing that the other families understood what we’d been through and we understood what they’d been through, without ever speaking the word,” said Gray, president of the Vermont Fallen Heroes Global War on Terror Corp. board.
The 44-foot-long granite memorial was designed by Dana Morissette and includes a sarcophagus inscribed with the names of 40 fallen service members with ties to Vermont. It also includes a sculpture with a helmet, boots and dog tags and carvings of a citizen soldier, the Vermont statehouse and falling maple leaves representing the service members.
Thanks to the efforts of the families and support from donors “there is now a tribute to these brave men that will proudly stand forever,” Gov. Jim Douglas said.
“For the family members of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation, we thank you. Your loss can never be fully understood and our debt to you never repaid,” Douglas said.
More than 1,000 donors across the state made contributions, including Revision Eyewear, J.A. McDonald, Granite Industries of Vermont and Rock of Ages.
“It truly has been a labor of love to do this for all our service members and their families,” Gray said.
For her stepson and the other fallen service members, she said: “I hope he’s as proud of me as I am of him, not just him but all the other boys. That’s what’s it’s all about, for all of these boys.”