Nine decades of honoring veterans
By John Faucher
A crowd of onlookers gathered around Taft Park on Thursday, Oct. 15 as local veterans, staff from Mathewson Monuments and Jim Curns Crain Service rigged straps to the 14,800 pound granite war memorial monument in the park.
Many of those watching were amazed at the smooth maneuvers in which the massive object swung from one location in the park to the other. The monument was moved to the east side of the park, to make room the new veteran’s memorial at the center of the park.
Dust from 90 years of stationary, continuous duty remained on the monument’s former concrete base.
Some expected to find a time capsule in the base but to no luck.
“I wonder when it was actually dedicated and originally put up,” said one onlooker.
Thanks to the files of late Leona Mech and other yet living New London historians, such as Bob Polaske at the Heritage Historical Society, that question could be answered in this column.
From the Aug. 31, 1927, issue of the New London Press: “New War Memorial Monument Placed, Dedication of Handsome Shaft in Taft Park will be Sept. 4th.”
That year the Norris Spencer Post of the American Legion arranged a big celebration and dedication ceremony. The article read that the details were still being set up but were planned to take place around noon.
“The monument cost a total of $1,600 and was made by the stone cutting firm of Burr and Pugh of Oshkosh. The material is fine quality of gray granite quarried in Georgia and came in three sections carried on two large motor trucks. The monument proper consists of a two-piece pedestal with an obelisk shaft in one piece, the whole being 12 feet two inches in height.”
“The monument is located in the center of the park in line with the river wall stairway and partly shaded by one of the box elder trees. On the north face is the United States coat of arms under which is the following inscription in plain letters.”
“Dedicated As A Memorial to the Men and Women of This Community Who Served The United States of America During Her Hours of Need 1861—1865—1898—1917—1918—. This Monument Stands As An Inspiration to Succeeding Generations to Give the Same Faithful Service.”
“Outside of the inscription and coat of arms the monument is entirely plain. There is no carving upon the pedestal.”
Editor’s note: Since the original monument was dedicated in Sept. 1927, the following wars have been added to it throughout the years.
WORLD WAR II 1941-1946, KOREA 1950-1955, VIETNAM 1964-1975, LEBANON 1982-1984, GRENADA 1983-1983, PANAMA 1989-1990, PERSIAN GULF 1990-1991, SOMALIA 1992-1994, BOSNIA 1995-1995, IRAQ 2001-2010, AFGHANISTAN 2001-2015.