While the Global War On Terror may have become a political lightning rod during the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, one fact remains today: the lives and safety of many young Americans are at risk. Since 2001, Americans have shed blood in the multi-front conflict triggered by terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. While Americans remain unevenly divided over the war effort and the imprisonment of combatants, most of the families of Vermont's fallen soldiers believe the overall battle against terrorism is worth fighting.
Now, thanks to an effort spearheaded by a group of Vermonters including Ray DeGiovine, the father of USMC Cpl. Chris DeGiovine, age 25, of Essex Junction, a lasting memorial will honor the lives of Vermont's fallen.
A graduate of Essex High School and Champlain College, young Chris DeGiovine took part in community bicycle patrols for the Essex Police Department. His goal was to pursue a full-time career in police work in Vermont after his military service came to an end. But the corporal's plans were not meant to be. Cpl. DeGiovine, assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., died April 26, 2007, in combat in Iraq.
Now Cpl. DeGiovine, and other young Vermont men like him, will be remembered in stone; a native granite monument will honor the lives of those who gave-and will give-their last full measure of devotion to the nation.
"This memorial will be a lasting testament to our soldiers killed in the nation's current wars, as well as a tribute recognizing the selfless commitment of those who have served and will serve in these conflicts," said DeGiovine.
"It is designed by Dana Morissette of Granite Industries of Vermont and will be built with Barre gray granite. It will consist of a sculpture of an M-16 rifle, helmet and dog tags, with relief carvings showing a citizen-soldier and a maple tree shedding leaves that symbolize fallen service members," he said
Deeply motivated by the death of his son, DeGiovine got involved with the Vermont Fallen Families organization and became treasurer of the Vermont Fallen Heroes GWOT Memorial Fund, Inc.
The fund, a 501c3 Vermont Charitable Corp., is the memorial project launched by Vermont Fallen Families in 2009.
"On Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists killing nearly 3,000 Americans attacked America," said DeGiovine. "Thousands of patriotic Americans answered our nation's call to arms in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom known as the Global War on Terror. To date, 36 of Vermont's finest and bravest servicemen have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms and liberties."
During its more than 200-year-long history, Vermonters have paid a high price during times of war. Akin to Vermont's role in the War Between the States of the 1860s, Vermont has lost more fallen heroes per capita during the current Global War On Terror than any other state.
According to DeGiovine, the memorial will be built at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center.
"The memorial's design plans were formally unveiled at a Nov. 11, 2009 Veterans's Day event held at the cemetery," he said. "Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and Gen. Thomas Drew, representing Vermont National Guard Adj. Gen. Michael Dubie, who oversees the cemetery, attended the event."
Plans call for a Memorial Day 2010 groundbreaking and Veterans's Day 2010 dedication. In the meantime, Vermont Fallen Families need to raise funds throughout the state.
As of November 2009, Vermont Fallen Families raised $90,000 toward the memorial with an additional $80,000 pledged. But the total cost for the memorial is estimated at $350,000, so there's a long way to go.
"Funds will be generated solely through private giving," said DeGiovine. "All donations are tax deductible to the maximum permissible by law."
Contribution levels for the monument are set from $20 to $5,000 and more. Individuals and businesses in Vermont and elsewhere are among the current contributors. Ton contribute or to request more details, contact DGiovine by telephone at 802-879-7044 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks should be made payable to the Vermont Fallen Heroes GWOT Memorial Fund, Inc. A website showing details of the memorial is located at www.VermontFallenHeroesGWOTMemorial.org.