Out & About: Hartford monument unveiling scheduled for Memorial Day

Alden Gray, left, and Jeff Egner, right, of Lulls Brook Landscaping, set commemorative bricks around a new monument to veterans of World Wars I and II in Veterans Park in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The granite block with bronze plaques containing the names of those who served in both wars, incorporates pieces of the town’s original WWI monument that fell into disrepair and now resides at the Hartford Historical Society. It will be unveiled in a Memorial Day ceremony at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 27. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Alden Gray, left, and Jeff Egner, right, of Lulls Brook Landscaping, set commemorative bricks around a new monument to veterans of World Wars I and II in Veterans Park in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The granite block with bronze plaques containing the names of those who served in both wars, incorporates pieces of the town’s original WWI monument that fell into disrepair and now resides at the Hartford Historical Society. It will be unveiled in a Memorial Day ceremony at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 27. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

Jeff Egner, of Lulls Brook Landscaping, places a commemorative brick while paving around a new monument to veterans of World Wars I and II in Veterans Park in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, May 16, 2024. For a donation of $125, contributors to the project were able to have the name of a loved one engraved on one of the bricks. About one third of the $85,000 project was funded by donation and the rest by grants. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Jeff Egner, of Lulls Brook Landscaping, places a commemorative brick while paving around a new monument to veterans of World Wars I and II in Veterans Park in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, May 16, 2024. For a donation of $125, contributors to the project were able to have the name of a loved one engraved on one of the bricks. About one third of the $85,000 project was funded by donation and the rest by grants. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-18-2024 5:19 PM

Modified: 05-19-2024 7:14 PM


WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — This Memorial Day a new monument honoring the Hartford’s veterans will be unveiled, decades after the town’s World War I and II monuments disappeared from public view.

A ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Monday, May 27, at Veterans Park on Railroad Row near the Windsor County District Courthouse in downtown White River Junction.

The new, two-sided monument, roughly 8-feet tall, combines both wars: The 291 residents who served in WWI are on one plaque, while the 729 who served in WWII are on plaques on both sides. Linda Miller, a volunteer with an interest and skills in genealogy, tracked down and verified each name.

“It’s amazing,” said Mary Kay Brown, who initiated the effort to bring back the monuments. “This would not have happened without so many people donating so much time and expertise.”

Members of the Hartford Monument Committee, all volunteers, worked for more than 18 months to raise more than $80,000 for the new monument and its future maintenance.

Brown got the idea to revive the monuments in 2019 and formed a committee that began meeting in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the effort, but in 2022 the committee resumed meeting and started planning in earnest.

“The committee was pretty confident from the beginning that we could raise our targeted amount,” Brown said.

That confidence was due, in part, to interest from the public and town officials who supported the project. The more the committee members spoke out about it, the more support they received.

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It was funded by donations from individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations, including the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. The committee also received a Better Places grant from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development and businesses volunteered time and expertise, including digging holes for the monument’s foundation and pouring concrete that serves as its base.

People also donated money to have bricks inscribed in honor of people in their lives, including veterans or those who work with veterans. Last week, the roughly 150 bricks were installed around the monument’s base.

Marcy Bartlett, a Wilder resident, purchased multiple honor bricks, including one for her husband, Dan, who previously worked as a nurse at the White River Junction VA Medical Center. The inscription reads: “Daniel Bartlett, RN, VA nurses heal our wounded warriors.”

“VA nurses are in my view in a class all on their own,” Bartlett said. “The level of care and the level of commitment required is extraordinary.”

Bartlett, like others, views the new monument as a long time coming.

Organizers of the new monument say no one knows for certain what happened to the original monuments. The original World War I monument, made of cast iron, was installed outside of town hall after the Great War. After World War II, another monument was erected. The World War I monument fell into disrepair and it was dismantled, its pieces — including individual nameplates of veterans — were eventually stored in the basement of Garipay House, home of the Hartford Historical Society. No one is quite certain what became of the World War II monument.

Dave Brown, Mary Kay Brown’s brother-in-law, grew up in Hartford and remembered seeing the old monuments as a child. He has multiple family members on the monument, including an uncle who was killed in action during WWII. He is looking forward to seeing it completed.

“To me it’s really honoring those who served,” Dave Brown said. “We’re enjoying most of the freedoms that came through their sacrifices.”

For more information, email Mary Kay Brown at ww1monument@gmail.com. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.