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thedrifter
03-12-07, 03:06 PM
Published: March 12, 2007 09:39 am

Organizers want Veterans' Day dedication
By Jim Goldsworthy
CUMBERLAND TIMES-NEWS (CUMBERLAND, Md.)

CUMBERLAND, Md. — The idea for the first memorial to honor America’s fallen Gulf War troops was conceived in Cumberland 2 1/2 years ago during a conversation between the VFW post commander and the father of the first local soldier to die while serving in Iraq.

Now, organizers are hoping that Cumberland’s Gulf War Memorial can be finished in time to be dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

A recent corporate donation of $3,000 will help, but more is needed, said Gary Lambert, past commander of Henry Hart Post 1411, VFW. Lambert has been one of the leaders in the effort to establish the memorial.

“About $45,000 is still needed, with most of that amount going to the cost of the granite face for the books, engraving it and installing it,” said Lambert.

Most of the money already in the memorial fund — about $23,000 — has been raised in the Cumberland area with the help of business people, the city government and residents, he said.

“We are proud of the people who have contributed money and labor to the project and the volunteers who have worked on fund-raising events and efforts,” said Lambert. “We want to thank everyone who has contributed anything or any time to the project as well.

“If everyone in Cumberland gave a dollar more, the project would be completed,” he said.

Lambert said the idea for the memorial came about because of a conversation he had with Jeff Davis, the father of PFC Brandon Davis, who was killed March 31, 2004, while serving in Iraq.

“Jeff asked me about the possibility of putting some kind of small memorial to his son somewhere in Cumberland, possibly Constitution Park, and I thought our community could do better than that,” said Lambert.

Lambert began to explore the idea, and he’s found many people willing to help. They know it’s for a good cause, he said.

“The people whose names will be on the memorial didn’t want to be there,” said Lambert. “We shouldn’t let them be forgotten. In addition, there are thousands who are going to be handicapped for life as a result of their sacrifices”

A statue of a soldier in a wheelchair will be placed at the memorial to honor the wounded.

Although Cumberland’s memorial was the first one started in America, another memorial has been completed in Philadelphia.

“It was started after we came up with ours,” said Lambert. “They were able to finish theirs first because they had more money.”

The local memorial site is on Front Street in front of Henry Hart Post and Fort Cumberland Post 13, American Legion, on land that Post 13 donated for the purpose.

It is next to Cumberland’s Amtrak station.

“Amtrak passengers see it and ask about it all the time,” said Lambert.

Passersby can see the concrete portion of the “Books of Remembrance,” which will contain the names of American servicemen and women who have fallen since 1990, from the Gulf War and beyond today. Lambert said the list of those killed is now about 4,200.

Five brass discs, representing the official seals of the five branches of the service - Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard - have arrived and will be installed in the sidewalk in front of the books. Installation of lighting and flagpoles, the rest of the concrete work and the landscaping are being scheduled.

Mike Conaugher, a local engineer and surveyor, provided the architectural site plan. He ceded 50 percent ownership in the design when it was copyrighted, allowing the Gulf War Memorial Committee to use the design in fund raising, so that 100 percent of the profits would go to the Memorial fund.

Lambert said the city of Cumberland cooperated on the necessary permitting and approvals. The city, downtown manager’s office and various businesses and have helped with numerous fund-raising efforts, in some cases holding additional events and raffles.

Jim Goldsworthy writes for Cumberland (Md.) Times-News.


Ellie