PEPPERELL -- If everything goes according to plan, the Global War on Terrorism Monument Committee has two years to raise $100,000.
Although the design is in its conceptual stage and is still being changed and discussed, the committee met on Saturday morning to further hone in on their design goals for the monument, which will honor all local-area Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The committee voted on setting Memorial Day 2015 as a tentative unveiling date.
Chairman Bob Connolly met with the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 28 about using the site adjacent to the Pepperell rotary for the design. The board instructed the committee to finalize their design and to discuss the location with the parks manager, Terry Spaulding, regarding its maintenance. The committee plans to convene for another meeting later in the month to vote on design.
The most recent schematics of the monument show a star-shaped design from the aerial view, with a flag for each branch of the military stationed at the points of the star. In the center, a slab of granite, approximately six feet high and two inches thick, would be etched with engravings of Iraq and Afghanistan. Several paths would lead up to the monument to create a moving experience.
"The whole experience of visiting the monument is a journey," said Connolly.
Designer Lee Rich originally presented a plan incorporating a field cross, after the image had come up in several of the committee's previous design conversations. But the idea was put on the back burner after discussions continued that a field cross represented lives lost as opposed to all veterans who served.
Tony Saboliauskas, quartermaster of the Pepperell VFW, who sat in on the meaning, questioned whether the monument should be focusing on positive elements as well as remembering those killed in action. He drew a comparison to the Vietnam War, in which he fought, and the Boston memorial commemorating its veterans.
"I still see triumph because (myself) and the guy next to me and guy on the other side of him still did our jobs in the face of all that ... adversity," he said.
Saboliauskas said that the statues of the veterans at the Vietnam War memorial in Boston brought focus to triumphs of those who fought.
"The statues really save that Vietnam memorial; otherwise it's just a mass grave," he said.
As opposed to incorporating the field cross, the committee discussed using the image of a living veteran in its place.
In the design, Rich had also incorporated a path representing the sand of the counties in which the veterans fought, suggesting that the committee members walk through the drying cement to eternalize their footprints. He suggested the footprints could be facing west to represent their return home.
Rich said each component of the design should represent something of particular significance to the veterans serving on the committee, down to the length spanning the monument. He suggested 48 feet to represent the 48 months that the veterans were enlisted.
The committee has begun organizing several fundraisers. The first will be a kickoff party held at the Pepperell VFW on April 6. Tickets are $10 apiece. The committee is planning to feature a 50/50 raffle, gift basket raffles and a live performance by Eastwood Peak. Appetizers and desserts will be served. Committee members will be canvassing local businesses for gift basket donations.
Members also are planning a Memorial Day barn dance, hosted by Lorri Guarnieri, on May 25, and a motorcycle ride and barbecue chicken dinner in the middle of July. Other ideas being discussed are an event at a local shooting range and a restaurant fundraiser.