After Chestertown area veterans gathered May 18 to observe progress on the new Chester Veterans Memorial, they accepted a U.S. flag flown over the Capitol from Shay Mason, an aide of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson. Participating in the presentation were (left to right): Shay Mason and veterans Harry Bollback, Lou Russo, Ron Robert, Bill Linton, Harry Brundage, Harry Smith and Joe Slattery.
A half dozen area veterans gathered May 18 on the lawn of the Town of Chester Municipal center to observe some construction work.
A few days earlier, excavators had scooped up tons of soil, and concrete footings were poured for four massive granite slabs that are to bear the names of area citizens who have served in the U.S. military.
Harry Bollback, a U.S. Marine veteran serving in World War II, overlooked the work that had been completed.
“To see this, is like a miracle,” said Bollback, a founder of Word of Life Ministries. “We all dreamed of this, and it caught fire.”
Within several weeks, the four multi-ton slabs of Vermont granite will be standing on the lawn in a semicircle.
Planted in front of the town of Chester’s municipal headquarters, the six-feet-tall memorials are to forever honor the men and women of Chestertown, Pottersvillle and elsewhere in the town of Chester who served their nation, Bollback said. Those engraved names will be of soldiers serving in either combat or otherwise from the Revolutionary War to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The granite monuments, which were being engraved this week with 979 names, will be flanked with six flags representing the Army Navy, Air Force, Marines Coast Guard and a POW/MIA flag.
There is also to be a fallen soldier’s memorial, a grouping of bronzed U.S. military boots, helmet, dogtag and rifle.
The monuments and flags, to stand about 25 feet from the municipal center’s entrance, will be illuminated at night.
The development, referred to as Veterans Plaza, has been designed in conjunction with a plan to hold festivals and outdoor gatherings on the municipal center’s lawn.
The plaza and the veterans memorial are to be dedicated in a patriotic public ceremony planned for 5 p.m. Saturday, July 7.
State and federal politicians and U.S. military officials have pledged to participate, Bollback said.
“It will be a spectacular event,” Bollback said, noting there will be a live band performing, color guards and notable officials attending.
Bollback and the other veterans, gathered May 18 — Lou Russo, Joe Slattery, Harry Brundage, Bill Linton, Ron Robert and Harry Smith — talked of the community support that was making this veterans memorial plaza a reality. No state, federal or municipal funds have been spent on the project, they said.
Bollback said that the monument committee has raised about $65,000 to date and that many businesses have donated services and materials for the monument project.
The måonument project has been under development for nearly two years. In addition to the veteranås named above, working on the effort have been Joanne Ellsworth, Tracy Evans, Frank Tucci, and Sam Maltbie have been involved on behalf of the American legion Post 964 and VFW Post 5513.
Donations are still needed to complete the work, Bollback said.
Contributions may be sent to: Town of Chester Veterans Memorial, P.O. Box 365, Chestertown, NY 12817.