NEWPORT, Maine — The names of some 500 military veterans from Newport who served during wartime dating back to the Civil War will be memorialized for generations after the installation Friday of a monument in their honor.
Frank Harding, commander of the Newport-area Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 11191, said besides honoring the veterans, all the names inscribed on three panels of black granite hold a lesson for nonveterans.
“Nobody who has not been under fire or in a war zone knows what these people did and where they went,” said Harding, a Vietnam War veteran. “Most veterans, when they think about that, it chokes them up.”
The monument was conceived by members of the VFW who spent years designing it and tracking down as complete a list as possible of Newport men and women who enlisted in the military during an American war. Despite the support from the VFW, though, the monument may not have been possible without some major phi-lanthropy.
The VFW paid half, using some of the money willed to the organization by the late Omar Perry of Newport. The other half was provided by the Galen Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, which is known for its support of veterans’ causes.
With a sturdy boom truck and thick nylon straps, employees from Elias Monument of Madison and Newport Monument of Newport collaborated to ease three black granite slabs onto a white granite base. “All gave some, some gave all,” proclaim heavy black letters across the bottom. Above are etched the 500 names against shining black granite. White stars next to 33 of the names signify the “supreme sacrifices” made by those who died while serving.
Monument maker Jim Elias said it took him a year to complete the meticulous process of etching the names and that constant involvement from the VFW’s monument committee was key to ensuring accuracy.
The monument faces a new bricked area next to the Newport Cultural Center on Main Street. Three flagpoles and granite benches are also on the way, just in time for Veterans Day. A dedication ceremony will take place in the spring, said Harding.