The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a heavy toll on the small town of Mashpee, and a campaign to memorialize the five servicemembers with connections to town who lost their lives serving in the wars officially kicks off tomorrow evening.
The Mashpee Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5489 has announced plans to commission, install, and maintain five memorial stone markers for the fallen heroes at the veterans garden at Mashpee Community Park, which is located directly across the street from town hall. A fundraising event to support the project will be held at Dino’s Sports Bar from 7 to 10 tomorrow evening, and will feature raffles, prizes, music, and food.
Those being honored are US Army Staff Sergeant Alicia F. Birchett, US Marine Corps Private First Class Daniel A.C. McGuire, US Army Private First Class Paul E. Conlon, US Marine Corps Captain Eric A. Jones, and US Army Private First Class Clinton E. Springer II. Ms. Birchett and Mr. McGuire served in Iraq, while Mr. Conlon, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Springer served in Afghanistan.
Karen A. McGuire, mother of Pfc. McGuire, said that families of the fallen are often afraid that people will forget the sacrifices of their loved ones, making this project all the more important.
Mashpee VFW Vice Commander Edwin Theis said that the stone markers, which will cost approximately $1,000 each, will be engraved with the late service member’s name, rank, armed services branch, date of death, and theater of service. A formal dedication of the memorial is planned for April, on or around the Patriots Day holiday.
“We want to honor these fallen heroes in a separate ceremony, prior to Memorial Day. The April date is significant, since it falls near the anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, which began this country’s war history,” Mr. Theis said.
The markers honoring the five heroes will be placed alongside similar markers honoring four of Mashpee’s World War II and Korean War veterans. Mr. Theis said that the four existing markers had been relocated to the park when it opened in 2002. They had previously been situated in different areas around town, including locations near the homes of the deceased, or at local cemeteries.
In addition to the markers, the garden also features bricks engraved with names and messages, part of a fundraising campaign for the maintenance of the park.
The Cape is very unique in the way it has supported the families who have suffered such great losses. I am honored to be living here, and it has made our life much easier.
Town Lends Support To Project
Mashpee residents have traditionally rallied to support veterans-related causes, and this project and fundraising event are no exception.
Selectman Thomas F. O’Hara was instrumental in getting the project off the ground, after he received a call from a resident inquiring about the town’s plans to honor the five fallen service members. “This is incredibly important. I was embarrassed that we had not already done something. Initial response from people and businesses in town has been outstanding,” he said.
During the past two weeks, fliers prominently displaying photographs of the five fallen servicemembers have been posted at high visibility spots throughout town, a Facebook page publicizing the event was created by former State Representative Jeffrey D. Perry, and e-mails and social media messages have been spread vigorously.
Michael R. Richardson, chairman of the Mashpee Board of Selectmen, said that he attributes the patriotic spirit of the town to the make up of its population. Mashpee has a sizable portion of residents, including many retirees who have served in the military, who clearly believe in freedom and love of our country, he said, leading to the very strong, heartfelt feeling the community has for veterans and the armed services.
Cynthia J. Jones, mother of Captain Jones, said she is touched and honored by the plans to honor her son and his fellow fallen comrades. “The Cape is very unique in the way it has supported the families who have suffered such great losses. I am honored to be living here, and it has made our life much easier,” she said.
“This is a club that nobody wants to belong to, and we hope that it has no new members,” she said.
For those interested in contributing to the effort but are not able to attend tomorrow’s fundraising event, tax-deductible donations may be sent to the VFW 5489 Memorial Fund, PO Box 1728, Mashpee, MA 02649.