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Making way for Wall of Honor

War monument moved in Taft Park

By Scott Bellile

An effort to install a granite veterans’ Wall of Honor in Taft Park became one step closer to reality on Oct. 14.

That Wednesday morning a crane moved the 14,800-pound war monument from the center of Taft Park to the park’s east side, clearing way for the New London Veterans’ Memorial Foundation’s proposed brickwork and Wall of Honor.

On hand to move the war monument were Greg Mathewson and Brenda Huse from Mathewson Monuments, Jim Curns from Curns Crane Service and Veterans’ Memorial Foundation helper Richard Dietz. The move took several hours because the bands used to secure the slick stone monument in place kept slipping.

Curns, who operated the crane, said he expected the challenge, so he had extra plans up his sleeve. He said the process was easier than another job of his, turning crashed airplanes upright.

Huse, who spent much of the morning adjusting the bands with Mathewson, said it was one of the largest and hardest structures she has ever moved.

The war monument lists each conflict the U.S. military fought in since World War II and the years of involvement.

The movers hoped to find a rumored time capsule inside it during the process but uncovered nothing. But it is now in relocated to make way for the proposed veterans’ Wall of Honor.

That black granite wall would humanize the wars with a focus on the names of veterans, living or dead. Donors can now purchase 4-by-8-inch Tribute Bricks for $150 each that display text about each vet. The plan is for 1,140 available spots on the two walls with potential for two more walls in the future.

The veterans’ memorial project has raised somewhere around $13,000 so far, said Jim Jaeger, Veterans’ Memorial Foundation secretary. The group aspires to sell 500 Tribute Bricks and raise $75,000 by the end of the year so the black granite from Africa can be ordered for next spring. An outreach to local businesses is in the works now.

The foundation’s ultimate goal is to raise $250,000 to support construction and a backup fund for future repairs.

“I think it’s important for the people in the area … to have something to remind them – it’s been said a million times – freedom isn’t free,” said Bob Dessort, PR person for the Veterans’ Memorial Foundation.

The community can help by ordering Tribute Bricks or buying raffle tickets for a Nov. 11 autographed Green Bay Packers football giveaway at the New London Intermediate/Middle School’s Veterans Day ceremony. Tickets cost $2 each or three for $5 and can be ordered by calling any of the veterans listed on the veterans’ memorial brochures available at Taft Park. Information on how to order bricks is also in the brochures.

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