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Consensus Reached on Wenham War Memorial Design

The Wenham War Memorial Committee votes on Friday to endorse a design that features an eagle returning home.

The Wenham War Memorial Committee voted unanimously Friday to support a new design for the monument that would feature on its top an eagle landing on the globe.

The Town Building Committee chairman John Darling said he would also support the new design and recommend its approval by the building committee, by the War Memorial Committee.

And Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren said he would recommend that the Board of Selectmen approve the new design.

The selectmen have been pressing for a design that the War Memorial Committee and the Building Committee agreed on. The selectmen plan to present the design for approval at the .

The town's Historic District Commission, which also opposed earlier designs of the memorial, must also approve the monument.

The new design, which resembles more closely the Civil War Monument in the center of town, is the product of weeks of negotiations among members of the two committees and other town officials. It has also involved several redesigns of the monument by landscape architect Kim Ahern and of the eagle and globe by the sculptor Mike Curtis.

The new design for the monument, which will be located on the car barn lot at the corner of Arbor and Main streets, would be at least 16 and a half feet tall and about five feet wide at the base. The eagle, sculpted out of bronze, would appear to be landing on the globe, which will be made of solid granite with the continents made of bronze.

Some critics of previous designs objected to the use of the eagle and globe because it appeared to suggest that the eagle, a symbol for the U.S., was dominating the world.

The War Memorial committee members, all of whom are veterans, said Friday that the landing eagle is a symbol for soldiers returning home to the U.S. after a conflict. The eagle would be depicted as "landing" on North America.

There would be four bronze plaques on the monument listing each of the Wenham veterans who served in World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. And there will be five 10-inch round plaques honoring each branch of military service across the bottom of the monument.

The committee left two issues to be finalized. The landscape architect will determine if the four plaques, which will be two and a half foot square each, would have space for all the names. There are approximately 435 names of Wenham veterans from the four wars.

A screening committee will confirm each name. And the list of certified veterans will be presented to the public for review well before the plaques are finished. Committee Chairman Peter Hersee said he understands that once the plaques are made, they cannot be changed.

Darling said he would not object to making the monument a little taller if necessary to accommodate all the names of veterans.

The width of the monument may also have to be enlarged to fit all five of the branch service insignias on the base.

The battle over the design of the memorial has created significant tension in town, although Hersee said the final design was reached through "friendly negotiations."

Helen (Ditty) Mulry resigned her positions as elections registrar and as co-chair of the Cultural Commission this week in protest of how the town has treated the veterans on the War Memorial Committee. Earlier Bruce Blanchard, the war memorial committee co-chairman, resigned for similar reasons.

The original concept for the monument by the War Memorial Committee was for a horizontal design. The Town Building Committee and other committees wanted the design to look more like the Civil War Monument, which is tall and thin.

The War Memorial Committee agreed several weeks ago to make the monument taller and spire-like in shape. But it refused to give up the eagle and globe on the top.

The construction of the memorial will be funded by private donations, which the war memorial committee will take a lead role in. The Winthrop Perkins estate has allocated $60,000 for the memorial and a maintenance fund of $84,000. Additional private donations will be needed.

Mary September 17, 2011 at 02:20 PM
i'm glad to see that the eagle/globe was not compromised. For those who still think it looks too "aggressive", I suggest that we all step back and review the military's own logos (most are eagle based), and in doing so please pay particular attention to the Marine Corp Logo (I attached it in the photo section - look familiar?). Let's move forward to honor our veterans - Semper Fi!
Lucy Frederiksen September 17, 2011 at 02:40 PM
The picture shows a very attractive looking monument. I am glad it is a little taller and more similar to the Civil War Monument, although I always liked the eagle and the globe.
Shabbir Moosabhoy September 23, 2011 at 06:18 PM
 Bronze plaques serve as a great honor. They are timeless and durable. To see more info, please see http://www.impactsigns.com/bronze-plaque

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