PEPPERELL -- "We got to come back, so we were the lucky ones," said Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Leddy and co-chairman of the Global War on Terror Monument Committee.
Leddy's statement was in answer to a question he then posed to his fellow committee members, all of whom are recent veterans or family members of those who have served.
"What do you think about when you think about this war? What's the image that pops into your head?" he asked.
The group, which plans to erect a monument for post-Sept. 11, 2001 era veterans, met over eggs and pancakes on Saturday morning during the Army Community Covenant's monthly Veteran's Breakfast.
The discussion was first brought up by Lee Richards of Dario Designs, who was also in attendance to discuss design possibilities for the memorial.
Richards asked the committee about their tentative mission statement, which states: "GWOT (Global War on Terror) is a group of Pepperell-area veterans who plan to organize and construct a public monument to honor veterans who have served post 9/11 (and have received a campaign medal), by fundraising."
He suggested that the mission statement should reflect more of the personal meaning that the monument will have for the group members.
"(It should reflect) the reason why you went (into the military) and how you felt when you left and coming back," said Richards. "If someone says something about the fact that you were at war, this is opportunity to tell them how you feel about that experience."
The committee tabled the discussion until the next meeting in order to consider revisions to the statement, moving on to discussions of location.
After voting, the committee chose the Pepperell rotary to focus on as the site of the memorial they plan to erect.
The decision for the memorial's location was made after a presentation from member Jean Connolly on a variety of potential sites around town, including in front of the library, by the rail trail and in front of the VFW by the Vietnam War memorial. The rotary was decided upon due to the open space, which would allow for maximum visibility, as well as its proximity to the route of the Honor Guard, which travels to various memorials to fire salutes on holidays such as Veteran's Day.
"If we put it right there, we could stop off at the rotary, shoot and continue on," said Chairman Bobby Connolly.
The next step for the group is to get permission from the Board of Selectmen to use the location. But members don't anticipate a problem. The committee has already met with the board, and selectmen openly voiced their support of the project.
"They were pretty clear that they were going to cooperate with us in any way possible," said committee member K.C. Hayes.
The committee decided to pursue becoming a nonprofit organization as opposed to a town committee after Hayes and Mike Levesque discussed the pros and cons of each route with an attorney. By becoming a nonprofit organization, the group will have more flexibility to make their own decisions without falling under the jurisdiction of the town. After the monument is complete, they can also form a town committee to receive the memorial as a gift on behalf of the town and manage the maintenance of the monument in the future.
"There's no conflict of interest (to form both)," said Levesque. "We could build it as 501c3 (nonprofit organization) and donate it to the town, and the committee could take the donation."
The added benefit of becoming a nonprofit organization, said Treasurer Matt Boisvert, is "People might be more likely to donate to a 501c3."
The committee has already received pledges for donations from the VFW, the Men's Auxiliary and Masy Systems. The group has brainstormed several ideas for fundraising as well: Selling bricks marked with the names of veterans and inlaid at the base of the statue, selling sweatshirts and holding a banquet at the VFW.
The regular location of the group's meetings will be during the monthly veteran's breakfasts. The new location for the breakfasts is at the Pepperell VFW on the first Saturday of the month beginning at 8:30 a.m.