Donate a Paver for Veterans’ Day

26Oct10

Memorialize a veteran
World War II Monument & FlagWith Veterans’ Day approaching, Wakefield Selectman John Encarnacao wanted to remind people that they have available to them a unique and permanent way to memorialize the veterans in their family – by contributing for a memorial paver for the “Veterans’ Walk of Remembrance,” which will encircle the new World War II Memorial that will be erected next year on the Common in Wakefield Massaschusetts .

“Everyone in the community has at least one veteran in the family,” Encarnacao noted at the end of last week’s selectmen’s meeting.

It is important to clear up several misconceptions about the pavers that will make up the Veterans’ Walk of Remembrance.

The pavers are available to all veterans of the US Armed Forces – not just those who served during World War II. In fact, a veteran being honored with a paver need not be a veteran of any war. Servicemen and women who served their country during peacetime are also eligible. You could honor your Army veteran brother who was stationed in Germany during the 1970s or your sister who served in the Navy in the 1980s.

The veteran being honored with a paver does not have to have been a Wakefield resident or have any connection to Wakefield. You could memorialize your deceased grandfather from Somerville who served in World War II, or your uncle from Peabody who served in Korea.

The veteran being honored with a paver need not be deceased. What better way to let a loved one know that you appreciate his service than by creating a permanent memorial for a living veteran? You could honor your living father who served during the Vietnam War or your aunt who fought in the first Gulf War.
World War II Monument
Current service members are also eligible. You could honor a son or daughter or friend currently serving overseas. What a way to recognize a family member or friend currently serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. Imagine returning home from war to find a permanent memorial recognizing your service.

In other words, you have a rare opportunity to create a permanent memorial to any veteran of any era from any place whether or not they served during wartime.

Regardless of when or where they lived or served, as long as they wore the uniform you can honor them with a paver on the Veterans’ Walk of Remembrance.
World War II Memorial
The pavers are the primary fundraiser for the effort to replace the decaying wooden World War II Monument that currently sits on the Common. So by contributing a paver you are not just creating a permanent memorial to a loved one who served his country. You are also helping to build a monument to those who served in World War II.

The pavers come in two prices – $300 and $500. They will be engraved with an inscription that includes the veteran’s name, rank and branch of service. Splitting the price among family members is a good way to make the cost affordable for everyone. That’s what my family did for my father’s and my uncle’s pavers.

The World War II Memorial Committee had hoped to have the mew monument in place by Memorial Day 2011. But even committee members would probably now concede that that ambitious goal was a little optimistic. The fundraising has gone well – with about $130,000 of the needed $200,000 raised so far. The committee is now looking at a target of Veterans’ Day 2011 for the completion of the new World War II Memorial.

The fundraising effort has come a long way, but still has further to go. You can help to make the new memorial a reality and at the same time create a permanent memorial for your own family member or loved one who served his country in the military.

Wouldn’t it be great to stand at the unveiling of the new World War II Memorial on November 11, 2011 and know that you played a role getting it done? And later, at any time, you’ll be able to visit the Veteran’s Walk of Remembrance and see a permanent memorial to your own family member or loved one.

I can’t think of a better way to observe Veterans’ Day.

[This column originally appeared in the October 21, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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