Selectmen alter war memorial article

MILFORD – The Vietnam war memorial planned for the cap of the Fletcher Paint Superfund site on Elm Street “is terribly out of character” with other memorials in town, one Vietnam veteran said at last week’s budget hearing.

Articles 33 and 34 on the town warrant would allow the town’s Vietnam memorial committee to accept donations for a Vietnam memorial and what they’re calling a Freedom memorial.

Rodney Richey said the Vietnam memorial as it is shown on the town website seems to glorify a conflict that “was one of the worst we ever participated in. It started on a lie and continued on a lie” he said, and cost live and money.

What’s needed is a simple granite memorial and bench, said Richey, and he asked selectmen to reassess their support.

Plans are to raise funds privately and the warrant article would allow a special fund be set up to accept donations. But Richey said the memorials should be built at taxpayer expense so the town can keep control. “This is the wrong place to teach history,” he said, and “I object to the hand off of responsibility.”

After the hearing, selectmen decided to alter the two articles’ wording, taking out “the purpose of this fund is to support the plan proposed” by the committee. They also removed the sentences giving the estimated costs, which at the time of the hearing were $125,000 for the Vietnam memorial and $95,000 for the Freedom memorial.

Richey “made a good point,” said Selectman Gary Daniels, and he agreed the memorial should be simple and not glorify the conflict.

And Selectman Mike Putnam said he has heard from more and more people that the Vietnam memorial should be downplayed.

The drawing of the Vietnam memorial on the committee’s website shows a plaza between Elm Street and the sloop going down to the river that includes a water feature, walking paths, benches, plantings and structures showing the conflict’s history.

The Freedom Memorial design includes a plaza with statues of police, EMTs and military responding to 9/11 and three columns that represent the sites where commandeered planes struck New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Kathy Cleveland may be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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