Four young Marines in Pepperell are at the core of a group working to raise a monument in that town to honor all those who served in the Global War on Terror, not just from Pepperell, but from towns throughout the area.
Like Viet Nam, this war, too, has its critics. But regardless of which political side you fall on, the fact remains that our men and women in uniform responded to our government's call to action and tens of thousands of them suffered, thousands died.
Not long after this war began, we wrote an editorial referencing those who were fighting for us in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack. A reader who disagreed with the decision to launch the war, replied that these soldiers were not fighting for him.
Yes, they were and are. Our military does not only fight for those who support their mission. They fight for every person in this country who lives with the rights and freedoms won by our armed forces, past and present. We are a democracy and that democratic process sent our men and women into war for all of us.
As we approach Memorial Day, townspeople will place wreaths at monuments that memorialize past wars. We now must add the Global War on Terror to these inspirational landmarks.
As for the project in Pepperell, writer M.E. Jones describes it this way ...
With $10,000 raised so far, an estimated total of about 10 times that much is needed to complete the project in Pepperell. The monument will incorporate design features that represent the unique environment in which military men and women served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Designed by sculptor Lee Rich, the granite monument's symbols are 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. Footprints decrease as the triangle narrows. 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 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 home.
Like all wars, the actual personal sacrifice of military service is not known or felt by everyone. But, hopefully, we as a people understand the price of freedom and will see to it that service in this war, too, is revered and memorialized just as those that went before.