Brunswick veterans seek $250K for plaza project

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BRUNSWICK — A $250,000 fundraising campaign is underway to build a veterans plaza at the Town Mall on Maine Street, with an eye toward completion by Veterans Day 2019.

The monument, which received approvals from the Town Council in February and Village Review Board in September, will incorporate granite stones representing veterans of all branches of the military service, including the Merchant Marines. The “honor blocks” will be placed around a medallion in the center of the monument, which will depict an eagle over the stars and stripes.

Twelve “sentinel posts” will stand around the circular-shaped plaza like the numbers on a clock, each depicting one of country’s armed conflicts.

The mall has a history of veteran memorials, Town Councilor David Watson, who is commander of American Legion Post 20, said Dec. 14. A hand-painted wooden structure dedicated to World War II veterans was not maintained and was dismantled in the 1970s, he recalled.

A newer, granite monument to veterans stands at the north end of the mall, but overgrown brush has prevented many people from knowing it’s there, Watson said. That structure, which now faces the road, will be turned 180 degrees to face the green and be incorporated into the plaza.

“The north end of the mall is really underused by the people,” Watson said, noting that not only will the plaza pay tribute to those who have served, but “it’s also beautifying and enhancing that end of the mall, and making it more pleasing for the public to use.”

With enough funds in hand, groundbreaking would be held on Memorial Day next year, with the plaza ready for public viewing by Veterans Day next November.

A GoFundMe campaign has begun for the project and donations can be made at the project’s website, veteransplaza.info. As of Dec. 14 the project had raised $225.

Ground-level lighting will allow for the plaza to be viewed in the evening, and flags representing the U.S., Maine, and prisoners of war and those missing in action will be flown at the monument. The site will particularly pay respect to Purple Heart recipients.

The plaza, designed by the Richardson and Associates landscape architecture firm, will showcase 320 honor blocks, which people can “adopt” for $250 each to memorialize a veteran. If all blocks are sold, $80,000 will be raised toward the project.

The stones will include the honoree’s name, branch of service, the years they served, and the conflict in which they fought.

Watson, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, noted that veterans of peacetime years are equally welcome. He wasn’t sent to Vietnam, but had a cousin who died there.

“When you sign your name to protect and defend … it could be peacetime, and the following day could be wartime,” Watson said. “It all depends on where you’re sent. … For me, there’s no distinction between war and non-war, when you’re a veteran.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Fundraising is underway for a plaza honoring military veterans at the northern end of Brunswick’s Town Mall.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.