To the Editor:
Just for some additional clarification, the funds (for the Wenham War Memorial) are from the estate of Winthrop Perkins, who was a veteran of WWII and saw duty in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Berlin, Germany during 1942-1945.
He was a proud veteran and a member of the Perkins family that has lived in Wenham for 10 generations dating back to 1689. His estate left approximately $286,000 to the town of Wenham, $143,000 to the Cemetery Perpetual Care Fund and another $143,000 to the Wenham Veterans ($60,000 towards the building of a war memorial and $83,000 towards a perpetual care fund for maintenance of all Wenham war memorials).
His bequest relating to the Veterans was documented by a letter of agreement dated May 18, 2009 and signed by all Wenham Selectman, which at the time of the gift were John Clemenzi, Lawrence Swartz, and Harriet Davis.
The agreement contains various conditions that include a requirement that a majority vote of the war memorial committee is necessary before any funds may be spent. Another condition requires the executor of his estate, John F. Perkins, to be a member of the committee.
The recent resignation of Bruce Blanchard is the second veteran that has resigned from the committee and clearly shows a deep divide in philosophy between the veterans and the empowered minority of the Town Hall Building Committee, which has refused to listen to the wishes of the veterans regarding the design of the memorial.
Don Luxton, who was the head of the Norman Prince Post of the American Legion in Wenham and a former member of the committee, also recently resigned due to similar frustrations.
As noted in the above response, the veterans feel very strongly regarding the symbolism of the sculpture of the globe and eagle proposed to be used on the top of the memorial. This sculpture has been used throughout the country for similar veteran and other patriotic memorials.
The empowered minority has expressed concern that the eagle landing on the globe is not appropriate symbolism and the eagle is not a “friendly eagle.” The designer has informed the committee that the eagle in the sculpture is landing on the United States and signifies members of the military returning home safely.
A rough drawing of the proposal by the Veterans is included in the July 22 Patch article titled “”
Something is wrong with a process that creates a committee that includes veterans to design a veterans memorial only to have them resign in frustration and be told that their design and symbolism are not appropriate. The empowered minority of the Town Hall Building Committee and a hired landscape architect are simply not more qualified than veterans themselves to design a “veterans memorial.”
We all enjoy the benefits given to us by the sacrifices of veterans and they simply wish to create a memorial that prominently remembers these sacrifices made to preserve freedom and democracy for all Americans. They deserve the respect to be allowed to have significant input in the design of their monument - the veterans need the help of the community at large to win this battle and would greatly appreciate your support.
John F. Perkins