TOWNSEND -- A memorial to Townsend's fallen veterans may be getting more attention in the future, thanks to the services of one resident.
Bill Conaway, an Army veteran who fought in the Vietnam War, donated his time and materials to create two signs in Memorial Hall marking the entrance to the Gold Star Memorial Room, which honors the 17 Townsend residents who died in World War I and World War II.
"We had our dedication last June and at that time we knew that we wanted to have signs indicating that was the Gold Star Memorial Room and not just meeting room number one," said Walter Mann, chairman of the Trustees of Soldiers Memorials.
"We started looking around to have signs made and went through some sign companies who gave us various pricing. Bill Conaway heard about it and volunteered his services to do it as something to thank those vets who gave it all. He totally donated his time and materials as his way of saying thank you," Mann said.
He said the signs will help draw attention to the room, which provides a central location to honor those veterans whose names are scattered at different smaller memorials throughout town.
"We think it's very important for everybody to remember the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedoms, and because the memorial squares are scattered all around the town, we feel it's great to have a centralized location where people can see all 17 of those memorials," Mann said.
Conaway said he thought it was critical to draw people's attention to the room, which they might not otherwise know was there. He said he knows the importance of recognizing veterans' sacrifices.
"I think it's important that we honor veterans. When I came back from Vietnam, we got spit on. It took us 50 years to come home," Conaway said.
"It wasn't until we had the veterans come back from Iraq and Afghanistan that in the process, the Vietnam veterans got to come back home. For 50 years we were the forgotten veterans," he said.
The Trustees of Soldiers Memorials were connected with Conaway through Senior Center Director Christine Clish. Clish recommended Conaway's work to Peter Buxton, a member of the committee who also drives the senior center van.
Buxton said the signs help people know that they can go into the room at any time to learn about Townsend residents who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"We have signs all over town, but we have nothing written about them, nobody knows who they were. So we researched everybody and brought it to one spot. These are all guys who have given their lives for the United States and they come out of our town," Buxton said.
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