THE CAMPAIGN TO BUILD THE VETERANS PLAZA
Approaches to honoring our nation’s veterans vary considerably. Many memorials focus on specific conflicts, even specific battles. They honor men and women who served by their race or their gender, while others focus on specific military branches. Many appropriately emphasize honoring those who sacrificed their lives, or are disabled, or are POW/MIA.
However, there are few that honor ALL veterans of ALL military branches, including the Merchant Marine, all of whom served in a variety of capacities that contributed to preserving the freedoms all of us enjoy, and even take for granted. This Veterans Plaza will provide a major expansion of the efforts to include and honor these millions of overlooked veterans; this effort is long overdue.
The Veterans Plaza will be built in the center of the downtown of Brunswick, Maine. This location was chosen because Brunswick is a community with a rich and deep connection to the military and shipbuilding industry. As a result, many in the community are veterans, and many work for one of the largest military ship builders in the nation. Further, Brunswick attracts tens of thousands of local, national, and international visitors.
The project’s organizers, with the help of the town government, have already achieved several major milestones: 1) Richardson and Associates, the architects of Brunswick’s statue and memorial to Civil War General Joshua Chamberlain, prepared a conceptual design (see above), 2) the project received the full endorsement of the Brunswick Town Council, 3) in September 2018, the Brunswick Village Review Board approved the final design and location of the Plaza which represents a major expansion of the landscape that includes an existing veterans monument.
American Legion George T. Files Post 20 and key area volunteers have begun the campaign to raise the $320,000 needed to build and maintain the Plaza. Official initiation of the construction of the Veterans Plaza is anticipated for Memorial Day 2020.
Plans call for completion of the construction in time to stage the official ribbon cutting on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.
To veterans and non-veterans alike, the Veterans Plaza will convey the characteristics of those who have served such as integrity, courage, respect, loyalty, valor, duty, honor, selfless service and pride.
Most importantly, to men and women who served, the Plaza will invoke a strong sense of pride in the service each gave when called upon to do so.
Fewer and fewer people have any first-hand connection, or recollection of many of the past conflicts/wars in which our country has been involved, not to mention the many who served in these engagements. To remedy this, the Veterans Plaza will:
- Feature a caption that will read, “In the Heart of our Downtown in our Most Valued Public Space.”
- Identify through a continuum of unique granite sentinel posts, the twelve major conflicts or wars in which the United States has been involved, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Place atop each sentinel post the U.S. medallion associated with each conflict/war, and the corresponding dates of each engagement.
- Acknowledge that all veterans beyond those who served in the twelve major conflicts/wars took the same oath of allegiance to defend their country, and were often called upon to engage in smaller conflicts.
- Honor the men and women who served with their names displayed on a series of Granite Honor Blocks radiating out from the center of the Plaza with the graphic of an American Eagle over an image of the stars and stripes.
- Pay particular respect to those who earned the Purple Heart Medal for death or wounds received in action against an enemy or as a direct result of an act of the enemy.
- Fly the flags honoring the POW/MIA, State of Maine, and United States atop three prominently located flagpoles.
- Ground-level lighting will provide an opportunity for the public to experience the Plaza during the evening.
With the appropriate approvals secured, American Legion Post 20 and key area volunteers have embarked on a campaign that will raise the $250,000 needed to build and maintain the Veterans Plaza.
Through the generosity and commitment of many people, the official launch event of the construction of the Veterans Plaza is anticipated to take place on Memorial Day 2020.
Construction of the Plaza is expected to be completed in time to stage the official opening of the Veterans Plaza on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.
American Legion Post 20 will serve as the fiscal agent for the project and have established a special Veterans Plaza account at Bath Savings Institution. People can support the project through donations given by cash, credit card, or stock transfer.
Approximately 445 Granite Honor Blocks will be part of the Plaza. Each is eligible to have the engraved name of a veteran, chosen by the donor, along with the service branch, and noting a specific conflict, or the years of service as a permanent tribute to that soldier or sailor. Full information is available on the project’s website, www.veteransplaza.info.
Background of the Project
Nearly 10 years ago, the late Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Gilbert (Gil) Ormsby, had a dream to see a Purple Heart Monument area that would be readily accessible to the public without cost or inconvenience.
The idea remained just an idea until Memorial Day 2016.
Gil and the late William “Chick” Ciciotte, then both active members of the American Legion, approached David Watson, Vice Commander of George T. Files Brunswick American Legion Post 20, and a Town Councilor. All three felt strongly it was long overdue to make this vision a reality.
Post 20 immediately embraced the value of this project and expanded the scope from solely adding a Purple Heart Monument to creating an enhanced space of remembrance and reflection located downtown on the Mall. This project would honor all the sacrifices made by all veterans of all military branches including those who served as merchant marines.
The Veterans Plaza project has already achieved several major milestones:
- August 2017 – thanks to the Town of Brunswick, the services of Richardson and Associates, the architects of the Joshua Chamberlain Statue and Memorial on Maine Street, were engaged to prepare a conceptual design for the project.
- February 2018 – the project design received approval from the Brunswick Town Council who urged that the project move to final design.
- September 2018 – the Brunswick Village Review Board gave its wholehearted approval of the final design.
Telling the Story of the Selfless Sacrifices in Service to Our Country
The Veterans Plaza will give context to the continuing dedication to the protection of our principles and values of equality and justice since the Revolutionary War era.
It will serve as a place of remembrance where citizens of all ages can gather to consider and reflect upon the sacrifices made by so many in the preservation of our freedoms.
It will tell a story of the personal commitments and sacrifices made by our brave men and women in defense of our country.
To veterans and non-veterans alike, the Plaza is meant to convey the characteristics of those who have served which include integrity, courage, respect, loyalty, valor, duty, honor, selfless service and pride.
Most importantly, to veterans, and merchant mariners, the Plaza will evoke a strong sense of pride in the service each gave when called upon to do so.