Crews from Scherrer Construction and the Wanasek Corp. on Friday prepare to install footings for the new veterans memorial that will be installed in Echo Park. Four blocks of granite will be erected this month and names of deceased veterans will be etched in place next spring. Photo by Ed Nadolski

Process slows as organizers work to verify names for inclusion

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

While organizers originally hoped to have a new veterans memorial in place at Burlington’s Echo Park for Saturday’s Veterans Day observance the focus has switched in recent weeks to ensuring the integrity of the new memorial.

“As much as all involved hoped to have the entire project completed by Veterans Day, the reality is that … patience and accuracy are imperative,” said local architect and veteran Tom Stelling, who has spearheaded the project along with Mayor Jeannie Hefty.

Stelling is referring to the gathering and vetting of the names that will appear on the memorial.

The concept of a permanent memorial came about earlier this year after local veterans organizations expressed concern about the increasingly difficult logistics of installing the temporary bed of crosses each Memorial Day to honor 1,800-plus deceased Burlington-area people who were veterans, according to Stelling.

Local veteran and artist Carl Anders first raised concerns about the difficulty of maintaining the growing number of crosses for the temporary memorial and suggested the veterans groups seek a permanent alternative, according to Stelling.

“This is about honoring people who served in the military and came home and became part of the fabric of Burlington,” he said.

The names of those who lost their lives in service appear on the black granite wall on the northeast side of Veterans Terrace adjacent to Echo Park.

The idea a permanent memorial for all veterans – upon which names can be added in the future – gained favor among members of the committee organized to oversee the effort last spring.

Led by Hefty and Stelling, the committee raised enough money to purchase four 6-foot by 6-foot black granite blocks that will be placed in a semicircle around the current war memorials in Echo Park.

The granite blocks – weighing nearly 10,000 pounds each, according to Stelling – arrived early this fall and are in storage awaiting installation.

That process began late last week with the pouring of concrete footings upon which to place the granite blocks. Depending on the weather, that will likely occur sometimes next week, according to Stelling.

The etching of the names in the granite, however, will wait until spring.

The reason? Organizers want to make sure those who are included are properly qualified and others aren’t mistakenly left off.

Stelling said the list of names on the crosses in some cases only included first initials or were otherwise incomplete. The goal, he said, is to include full names and ensure all families that those whose names appear on the memorial are there for a legitimate reason.

To read the full story and see a computer graphic of what the memorial will look like, pick up a copy of the Nov. 9 Burlington Standard Press.