Posted: Jun 15, 2012 7:14 AM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Jun 15, 2012 7:47 AM
HAMILTON- The Bitterroot Valley, and Montana as a whole, have a long record of service in this nation's wars and a new memorial nearing completion in Hamilton will help to not only remember those men and women who've served over the years, but add a very personal touch to those memories.
On the north edge of Hamilton a monument to sacrifice and service is rapidly taking shape, promising to be not only a local place to remember those who've served in the Armed Forces, but a remarkable creation that's already creating interest from across the country.
The idea of a dedicated veterans' monument in the Bitterroot dates back years, but it's only in the past year the project found a home here at the new Hieronymous Park. In recent weeks the new memorial has moved from ideas on paper to a remarkable structure under the guidance of Chapter 938 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
But the monument represents an entire community effort, with everyone from individuals to local businesses pitching in, helping to pay for the monument which will probably cost upwards of $200,000 when its complete.
The veterans gathered this week to lay in the two-foot square "pavers" down the center of the monument, with several already engraved with the names of sponsors, remembering units and individuals...
"All veterans of any conflict, dead or alive. We have them from the revolutionary wars, Civil War, all conflicts. So, it's a lot of history preserved here. And each veteran in 30-chariacters can state whatever he desires, so there's a lot of history here," monument designer Ron Milam explained.
The veterans laid in the stones with care, adding the first of many names that will eventually personalize the entire monument.
"Four or five of them are honoring people who got killed and stuff like that," Alan Sperry with Vietnam Veterans of America said.
The design was inspired by the national Vietnam Veterans' memorial, with plans for eight-foot inscribed walls and other features paying tribute to the valley's commitment for defending our country.
"That is very true. There's an estimated 5,000 veterans in Ravalli County. Montana runs first or second per capita of veterans for conflicts. Names are coming in from all over the United States. People preserving their full family. Al has six names of his family. I have five in my family from World War I. So it's preserving history," Milam commented.
The monument will be dedicated on November 12th, but already people are coming by to view the legacy of service marked by the permanence of granite and stone, remembering lost friends and colleagues in the shadow of the Bitterroot.
The veterans are still looking for about $20,000 in donations to finish paying for the monument. Click here to learn how you can help out the cause.