Local Town Pages - Many of us want to deeply honor our veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, but why not give a nod of recognition to all of those who have served? A new Veterans Memorial Walkway planned by the Franklin Veterans Council will shine a light on the 45 soldiers from Franklin who gave the ultimate sacrifice during time of war or conflict, but it will be paid for by bricks recognizing the service of any beloved veterans or active service members of the United States military.
“I think they’ll remember their family,” says Larry Bederian, Commander of the Franklin V.F.W. Post 3402. “You might have a brother that might be in the military today; you might be able to remember him, say ‘Hey, I bought you a brick for $100.”
“As you drive around Franklin, if you’re really viewing the landscape signs, you’ll see different memorial street signs,” says Franklin Veterans Services Officer Dale Kurtz. “But most people don’t see them. About two years ago, we started talking about what can we do to recognize those people memorialized by those signs.”
Kurtz, a member of the Franklin Veterans Council, which meets at 7 p.m. on the on the third Thursday of each month at The Franklin Senior Center, 10 Daniel McCahill St., Franklin, came up with a concept in October of 2016 to create a walkway by the current war memorial on the town common, with pedestals honoring the 45 men who gave the ultimate sacrifice during our nation’s conflicts.
To pay for the project, which will cost about $85,000, the group decided to do a brick sale program. People from any town can purchase a brick to honor any veteran that has served in the nation’s military, including the National Guard, the Reserves and Active Duty military personnel. The area can accommodate 5,000 to 6,000 bricks.
“The proceeds from those bricks will pay for the construction of the project,” says Kurtz, who explains that Bederian will be managing the brick order forms and payments, as well as any donations that people might want to offer for the project.
“We’ve been able to reduce the cost of the project by negotiating with different contractors,” says Kurtz. “We’re very hopeful that through the purchase of the bricks and just donations from businesses or individuals, we’ll be able to pay for the project.”
Bederian explains that the Veterans Walkway Committee includes Rose Turco, who was instrumental, he says, in placing the memorial street signs around town, representatives from the Franklin Elks Post 2136, representatives from the Franklin American Legion Post 75, and representatives from Franklin V.F.W. Post 3402, along with a couple of other veterans in town.
In about six months and a couple of long meetings, the committee, says Kurtz, decided what the walkway “would be, how we would do it, and also part of the design would be how much it would cost. Then we worked with HFA Architects and they came up with the design. They came up with exactly what I had in mind.”
Franklin Town Council had to be consulted for approval on the project, and Kurtz says they readily approved the proposal just before Veteran’s Day 2017.
Bederian and Kurtz both agree that giving every veteran a chance for recognition means a lot.
“I think it means more that every (veteran) gets recognized, not just the ones who paid the ultimate. You go to the VA and you see people still from Korea in there; you’ve got guys from Afghanistan Iraq – give them a little recognition, too. It’s a great idea,” says Bederian, who adds that he has had interest from a resident of New Mexico in purchasing three bricks for the walkway.
“This is open to anybody,” says Kurtz. “My sister-in-law from Wisconsin can buy a brick for her father and have it placed in our walkway.”
The design of the bricks is going to be very simple.
“We’re keeping it very general. I don’t care if they’re a four-star general or a private. The first line is going to be a name, last name second line, and branch of service the third line. Every brick is going to be the same,” says Kurtz. “You don’t get to choose where you go.”
“The thing is, yeah, when you’re in there, rank means a lot, but after you get out, whether he was a general or this guy was a private, you did the same thing, basically,” says Bederian.
“You as the individual matter; you’re the important person,” says Kurtz, who adds that although a couple of benches are planned for the area, and they will be built with donated money, the pedestals and the bricks will be the only items adorned with names.
“This is a solemn area, and we’re keeping commercialization out of it,” says Kurtz, who says the area will become a historical marker in town.
If you would like your own or your loved one’s contribution to the United States Military to be part of this permanent memorial, you can download an order form for the bricks from Franklin American Legion Post 75’s website at http://www.mapost75.com/ or from the VFW at https://post3402.org/documents and mail your order form and payment to “VFW Post 3402” to Franklin V.F.W. Post 3402, 1034 Pond St / PO Box 96, Franklin, MA 02038.
You can also order your brick online by clicking the link at http://franklinveteransbricks.com/.