FALMOUTH, Maine — The newest phase in a two-year effort to build a monument for Falmouth veterans has organizers stumped. Literally.
A dozen tree stumps line the street on Depot Road where they plan to erect an 8-foot black granite monument honoring the town’s military veterans. The town’s Veterans Memorial Committee hopes a business or resident will volunteer to pull them out.
The stump-digging project is part of an overall campaign to raise $55,000 cash and in-kind donations by Memorial Day, May 26. Diane Moore, chairwoman of the town’s Veterans Memorial Committee, said Tuesday the group has raised about half of its goal. With fewer than three weeks left, organizers are getting nervous.
“We’re holding our breath,” Moore said. “We’re hopeful we can pull this off.”
The initiative was started two years ago by Ted Vail and the late Arthur Frederiksen, two veterans of World War II who graduated from Falmouth High School, class of 1945. After graduation, Vail served in Germany, while Frederiksen served in the Pacific region.
Falmouth was much smaller then, Vail recalled recently at the site of the proposed monument. In the mid ’40s, the town’s population was less than 2,000. About 120 students attended the high school. Of them, six young men were killed in action.
“This was a tremendous contribution from this community; in a school this small, in a town this small,” Vail said.
Frederiksen died in April 2013, midway through the funding initiative. He was diagnosed with cancer and knew he wouldn’t see the project finished, Vail recalled.
“It’s going to be what Arthur wanted,” he said. “It’s true to his wishes.”
The monument will be placed on a small strip of land owned by American Legion Post 164, which has been leased to the town for 99 years, Vail said. It will feature two monuments: an 8-foot standing monument dedicated to all veterans, and a smaller monument to the six who lost their lives in World War II, including George Olmstead, a classmate of Vail and Frederiksen, whose memory served as an additional impetus for the project, Vail said. The smaller monument will replicate an existing plaque in the lobby of Falmouth High School.
The site will also feature trees and shrubs that have been pledged by Falmouth businesses Allen, Sterling and Lothrop and Skillins Greenhouses. The site was cleared of existing trees by Lucas Tree Experts as an in-kind donation, Vail said.
The mature conifer trees were “very old and not in good shape, otherwise we wouldn’t have removed them,” he added.
Vail said the project received a flurry of donations in February when it was announced, but participation has tapered off since then.
“We need a boost,” he said. “We hope to inspire and encourage more donations.”
Vail is part of a four-member committee along with Moore, Carol Iverson Kauffman and Betsy Jo Whitcomb, any of whom can be contacted for more information or to receive donations. Moore can be reached at 699-5350 or 781-2366.