By Jack Firneno
This summer, contractors will begin construction on a veterans memorial that’s just as much about the town’s soldiers as it is the citizens.
After six years of planning, fundraising and designing, the Veterans Square Park Monument in Lower Makefield is about to become a reality. The last step is a 20/20 fundraiser: an effort to raise $20,000 in 20 days to cover costs.
So far, the all-volunteer Veterans Committee has raised more than $15,000 in half that time.
“Most people really think it’s time to have a monument like this in their community,” said Committee member Kathy Kraeck.
But what they want isn’t just a reminder of soldiers who lost their lives. It’s also a celebration of what they fought for.
There’s conspicuously no war imagery or depiction of soldiers in the design, which Kraeck is careful to call a “monument,” rather than a “memorial.” Rather, it’s a curved wall surrounding an American flag, situated on paved ground.
“It’s supposed to be timeless,” she explained. “We didn’t want to depict any certain conflict. It’s really to honor those of the past, present and future.”
Local troops who gave the ultimate sacrifice will be honored with bronze engravings of their names on the wall, but Kraeck and the committee envision field trips, picnics and other community events taking place at the monument.
“There are yoga classes and a children’s class there,” said Kraeck of some of the regular activities that take place at the monument’s future location in the park at the corners of Edgewood and Heacock roads in Lower Makefield. It’s also where the town’s annual Veterans Day parade ends.
“We realized there was no flagpole or monument, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to create one?’ ” explained Kraeck. “It’s kind of the center of our community. We don’t really have a downtown. Edgewood is our Main Street.”
And, that community is a strong one. Over the past six years, residents have donated more than $250,000 for the monument. Brian Mann, an architect with the Hatboro-based Omnia Group, volunteered his time to create the design. And, Lower Makefield resident Robert Girandola created a life-sized bronze eagle that will sit atop the monument.
A professional sculptor, Girandola also designed the monument for Engine Company Six in New York City to honor four firefighters who died on 9/11.
“They all donated their talents. It was basically their appreciation and gratitude for veterans in our country,” said Kraeck.
And, even as the organization behind the monument wraps up, there are still ways for others to show their appreciation. The Committee is still offering Freedom Pavers, which are bricks that will be part of the design and have the donator’s name engraved on them. Committee members are matching some donations, and anyone who donates more than $1,000 is invited to an unveiling of the bronze eagle at the Rose Bank Winery in Newtown.
Kraeck is confident they’ll reach their goal, and will dedicate extra funds for landscaping design and any extra construction costs. The project is slated to be completed by Sept. 30.
“Many people have been donating because they know it’s coming to fruition,” she said. “People are very excited.”
For information, call 267-274-1195 or visit www.veteranssquare.org.