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Selectmen Charge Building Committee With Design of War Memorial

War Memorial Committee is frustrated with the move, threaten to offer its preferred design to Town Meeting.

To the frustration of the War Memorial Committee members, the Wenham Board of Selectmen has handed the design of the proposed War Memorial to the Town Hall/Police Station Building Committee.

The selectmen last week told the building committee to work collaborately with the War Memorial Committee, which has been working on the memorial siting and design for three and a half years.

The selectmen want the design finalized in time to present it for approval to the fall Town Meeting. They set a deadline of Sept. 9 for the agreed-on design to be submitted to them.

Members of the War Memorial Committee said they feel like the town has not appreciated their work to design and find a location for the memorial.

“It is so frustrating,” said committee co-chair Bruce Blanchard, who said the committee may decide to take its prefered design to the Town Meeting.

Selectmen Board Chairman Molly Martins said, “I understand their (the War Memorial Committee members) frustration.” But she said it is important to remember that this memorial “is not just the War Memorial Committee's monument. It is the whole town's memorial to those who have served our country.”

The site of the memorial was finally resolved at the Town Meeting this spring. After looking at several other locations, including the Town Hall grounds, the monument will be on a portion of the Car Barn lot.

What is undecided is what the memorial will look like.

The War Memorial Committee members wanted a design that would be different from “all the other memorial statues you see around the country,” Blanchard said.

The committee favored a longer, lower style monument that represented all five military services. Critics, including building committee chairman John Darling, said it looked too much like the Seaman's Monument in Gloucester. The Historical Commission also favored a different design.

To accommodate the critics of the design, the War Memorial Committee redesigned the proposal – its fifth different design, Blanchard said. The new design would be 18 feet tall and have an eagle and globe on top, he said.

Other officials, including some building committee members, have said they would prefer to have something that looked more traditional like the Civil War monument, which stands in front of Town Hall.

The war memorial should reflect many things, including the town's history and heritage, Martins said. She wants something that will be standing long after “we have passed.”

She urged everyone involved to “put aside their frustrations. We are in the final stretch. Hopefully everyone can not look back too much.”

John F. Perkins June 16, 2011 at 07:43 PM
The above comment from Howard Morong, a veteran and member of the war memorial committee displays the total frustration of the veterans and the bad feelings that have resulted. Some veterans have resigned in disgust of the process. As a member of the committee I have witnessed this frustration first hand and can only hope that these veterans will eventutally get the monument that they completely deserve. I find it incredulous that some can even begin to say that they "understand their frustration". What is "important to remember" is that the veterans gave us the ability to enjoy all the freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis and the monument should be about them and designed by them. It is ridiculaous to think that veterans are capable of defending democracy and are incapable of designing a monument commemorating their fallen comrades. John F. Perkins Executor of the Estate of Winthrop Perkins
Michelle Bailey June 17, 2011 at 04:59 PM
There's a meeting on Thursday morning at 8pm to talk about the issues. I hope everyone can take a step back and think about what we want to achieve, a memorial to the war veterans.
Bruce Blanchard June 17, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Sorry Molly, but "after we have passed" is about the veterans, not you. What about the veterans who have passed defending our rights and freedom? This goes way beyond just Wenham's history and heritage - this is about the history and heritage of the United Staes of America and why we can still look at Wenham's history and heritage, and have this discussion. Bruce
Brent Morong June 17, 2011 at 06:16 PM
It simply amazes me that time after time our little town of Wenham makes an absolute spectacle of itself. I can't seem to wrap my head around the process that takes place to approve anything that comes before the Board of Selectman. I know, from firsthand experience, how frustrating it is to be on a committee and be asked for your opinion, only to have you ignored and put aside because someone else has already decided what is "best for the town". The war memorial committee was approved, and appointed, by the Board of Selectman to take on the task of designing a fitting tribute to those that have fought and died to preserve our rights and freedoms. Those rights allow all of us to live in a community such as Wenham. By appointing the members to any committee, in my opinion, the Board Of Selectman have entrusted those individuals to put time and effort into designing a project that will, in fact, be in the best interest of the town. Just as we have voted them into office, trusting they will make responsible, and timely, decisions. For once, there is a project before the board that requires NO OVERIDE, imagine, they don't have to "find" money. All that was asked of them was to provide a piece of land to place this historical and important monument. Three years and counting! Really??? The location has just been approved. The design, or should I say multiple designs, have been submitted over the past three years. CONTINUED......
Brent Morong June 17, 2011 at 06:46 PM
But once again, "someone", has a different idea of what it should be. Do they really think the War Memorial Committee is going to design and erect a monument that isn't fitting to "their town"? This is a direct reflection upon each member. I think they have put the time and effort into preserving the historical essence of downtown Wenham. This memorial is, after all, all about history. It is time to sit down. Perhaps over a cup of tea, across the street, at the oldest working tea-house in America, and look at the designs ( again ) and pick one. Make a decision, pick up the phone and say, "thank you...we can't wait to see the finished product." Don't drag this out to October, and the ground freezes, and there's yet another excuse to delay another project in town. These members deserve the respect of the Board of Selectman. They have a vested interest in honoring the fallen heroes that gave us our rights and freedoms. Enough is enough. Get it done.
Brent Morong June 17, 2011 at 07:26 PM
This isn't costing the town anything. Well that's not true... This monument cost the brave men and women of Wenham their lives. When you stop and think of that, there's really not much more to discuss. Brent Morong. Proud son of Howard E. Morong, Retired Navy. Who, along with the other members of the Memorial Committee, served this country selflessly, with dignity, bravery, and honor. We owe a lot more to them, than this simple request.

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