Veterans Memorial Walkway Draws Enthusiastic Crowd at Dedication Ceremony

Anne Parker
People had their first chance to walk along the Veterans Memorial Walkway at the dedication on Nov. 11.
Issue Date: 
December, 2018
Article Body: 

At last the much anticipated monument is complete. Last month, Veterans Day, November, 11, 2018, was the 100th anniversary of the agreement to end WWI. On the same day, the town of Franklin dedicated its newest monument to honor military veterans, following 3 years of planning.
Hundreds of visitors gathered on the town common to witness the ceremony for the Veterans Memorial Walkway. Among them, more than 180 family members of the 45 Franklin service men who lost their lives in battle.
The Walkway is composed of 12,000 bricks. Anyone is invited to purchase a brick for the walkway and have it engraved with the name of a friend or family member who served in the US Military. To date, more than 1,100 bricks are engraved. Bricks sales are still going on.
The curved walkway also has 45 granite posts along it’s perimeter, each post with the name of a fallen military veteran from Franklin, their rank, and the war they served in.
As Franklin Veterans Services Director Dale Kurtz led the ceremony, the sun sparkled above the flags as they waved in a fresh breeze.
The Rev. Brian Manning, Pastor of St. Mary’s Church, opened with an invocation for veterans and families whose bodies and hearts are scarred by war. “May the peace that you give us be the peace that sustains you,” he prayed.
Senator Karen Spilka was represented by her liaison, Susan Nicholl who said Spilka is proud of the walkway. She is aware of the challenges veterans face. Her father had returned from WWII suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the time, no one knew what is was, nor were there services. This influenced Spilka’s decision to pursue professions that would enable her to provide services and access to help with stress, mental and physical disabilities and other challenges so veterans can lead full lives.
Last spring, the state passed the BRAVE Act, which provides paid military leave for those called to active duty. It stands for Benefits, Rights, Appreciation, Validation and Enforcement. It increases access to services for veterans and their families in Mass. including tax credits and enhanced educational opportunities.
A veterans’ tax credit was also passed in the state which provides incentives for employers to hire veterans, she said. It requires the Dept. of Veterans Services to guide businesses to attract and hire veterans and improve their employment opportunities.
The state Senate and legislature passed $50,000 to create the walkway, supported by Spilka and State Rep. Jeffrey Roy.
State Rep. Roy recognized those part of the brotherhood and sisterhood we call the U.S. military. “It is your service and sacrifice that have kept our country safe and free. No matter what branch you served in, whatever your job path or how long you served raising your hand and committing yourself to service to the military was a brave and selfless act’.”
Roy explained his journey he took to New York City recently to reflect upon the notion of why we fight. He visited several monuments such as Federal Hall, the grave of Alexander Hamilton, the 911 Memorial Museum, and others.
He concluded “all these sites, memorials and beacons stand to remind us of peace. We fight to preserve freedom. And we fight so our children may enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We create these monuments and memorials as the testimony to the ideals of enduring freedom.”
“Vocalizing our gratitude is noble and deserved. But illustrating our thanks with actions is even more important,” he said. “Like all the monuments and memorials I’ve been to this past week, this walkway is a tribute to greatness, personal sacrifice and commitment.”
“To the veterans, thank you for all you have done to keep us free. And please accept these measures as tokens of appreciation from a grateful community and a grateful state.”
Army veteran and committee member for the walkway Bob Gardner read a proclamation signed by Governor Charlie Baker.
Rose Turco, who is part of the Walkway committee, read the names of the fallen heroes. After each name, a short roll of the drum was heard from the Mass. National Guard 215th Army Band who ended the ceremony playing God Bless America. The Franklin High Chorus also sang. The Franklin Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts removed the veils that covered the 45 plaques.
Kurtz acknowledged the committee members who spearheaded the project 3 years ago. He also acknowledged the DPW staff who did much of the work to clear the area and install it, and the contractors who designed and built the memorial.