NEW GLOUCESTER — A sign of New Gloucester’s support for those who have served in the military is shining brighter as Veterans Day approaches.
The New Gloucester Veterans Monument has stood since 2014 as a testament to the town’s veterans who have answered the call to service from present day dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
This Veterans Day, the monument features new lights that illuminate the stone pillars bearing the names of the veterans, benches that allow people to sit and reflect, and five new sugar maple trees that will grow to create a backdrop for the monument.
Selectboard Chairwoman Linda Chase has publicly commended local electrician Danny Spurling for installing the new lights.
“I want to thank Danny Spurling for lighting the monument for the vets,” Chase said at an Oct. 23 special Selectboard Meeting.
The lighting is powered by the McCanns of McCann Fabrication, according to Jean Libby, a member of the monument committee. The McCanns also provided the land for the monument, which sits near McCann fabrication in New Gloucester’s Upper Village, she said.
Dick McCann and his sons Dennis and Rick all served on the monument committee, and Dennis McCann served as the project manager.
The five trees, representing the five branches of the military, were planted by Donna and Chuck McNally from Donna’s Greenhouse in New Gloucester.
Donna McNally said the New Gloucester Veterans Monument Committee purchased the trees for about $225 a piece. She and her husband donated their time and some materials to plant the trees behind the monument.
“After two years, they’re going to start growing quite a bit,” McNally said about the trees. The monument, she said, “means a lot to a lot of folks.”
The monument was a joint project between the New Gloucester Historical Society and Lunn-Hunnewell AMVETS Post 6, the program said.
Committee member Lenora Conger, who serves on the New Gloucester Selectboard and is also a veteran of the Air Force Nurse Corps, called the monument “a matter of pride, but also remembrance.”
“It full-filled a long-awaited need that people be recognized for what they’ve done for their community and their country,” Conger said.
Committee member Bill Kiley, 81, says that he’s lived in New Gloucester “all my life” and that he “just thought it would be a good project” for the town.
Though Kiley served in the Navy during the Korean War, he said his involvement in the memorial was “not just because I was in.”
“Everybody worked together on it,” said Kiley, who is also an AMVETS member.
Kiley said that he hauled materials from his gravel pit to build the pad that the memorial sits on.
“I think it turned out real well,” Kiley said.
Other original committee members were Philip Blake, Thomas Blake, Jeff Hamilton and Judith Witko.
There are 1,163 names of people with ties to New Gloucester on the monument, Libby said. She said that veterans didn’t need to be born in town – they just need to have lived there at some point and there needs to be some proof of their service.
Libby said that the veterans’ names are added to the monument free of charge, and that new names can be added once a year in the spring.
Bricks placed on the ground at the monument can also be purchased and engraved for $50 with any 3-line message “as long as its appropriate,” Libby said, noting the bricks can be dedicated to anyone, even veterans who are not from New Gloucester.
Efforts to raise money for the monument started in 2012, and Libby says that when donated materials are factored in, the cost totaled approximately $95,000.
“It was a little bit here, a little bit there,” Libby said of the fundraising efforts.
Both Libby and Kiley said the project got a big boost from Gov. Paul LePage, who designated $10,000 from his contingency fund for the project.
“I just knew that when we got that money from him, we could do it,” Libby said.
“There was a lot of people involved in this project,” Libby said. “It was fun, and its something that New Gloucester can be proud of.”
“The veterans monument was an example of people of all walks coming together,” Chase said.
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
The New Gloucester Veterans Memorial now features lights, two granite benches, and five young sugar maple trees that represent branches of the military.
The New Gloucester Veterans Memorial is now illuminated at night thanks to lights installed by local electrician Danny Spurling.