Fallen heroes memorial reaches funding milestone

Members of Talbot County veterans service organizations who submitted donations on behalf of their programs, from left, Judge Advocate Walter Black, American Legion Blake-Blackston Post 77; Commander Larry Hansel, the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Senior Vice Commander Gene Feher, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 648; Commander Kenley Timms, VFW Post 5117;Nancy Gooding and Agnes Blades, members of VFW Post 5117 Auxiliary, Seam Squirrel Douglas Willey, Military Order of the Cootie; and Commander Lee Young, American Legion Post 70.

EASTON — Representatives of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5118 received a total of $11,000 in donations Wednesday, Feb. 26, from six area veterans groups during a weekly dinner at the post on Glebe Road.

The VFW has reached is initial funding goal of $18,000, about 13 months after the Talbot County Council approved the Killed in Action Memorial to be built.

“We are so happy,” said Nancy Gooding, a member of VFW Post 5118 Auxiliary and one of the leads on the project. “This tribute to these KIAs is long overdue.”

“It was a great feeling — I don’t know how to express it,” said Agnes Blades, the other project lead, whose husband, Army Staff Sgt. Thomas Blade,s is honored on the Vietnam memorial. “This is a great way to show our appreciation for their service and lives.”

Once completed, the blue granite monuments will be placed next to the existing Vietnam memorial on the courthouse property in Easton.

Gooding and Blades estimated they have spent hundreds of volunteer hours during the past two years to make this memorial a reality. They also have spent time trying to contact the families of the individuals listed on the memorial. A majority of the families have been reached, Gooding said.

“Hopefully, we can reach the rest,” Blades said.

Representatives of VFW Post 5118, the Military Order of the Cootie, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 648, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 570, American Legion Talbot Post 70 and American Legion Blake-Blackston Post 77 presented donations. The representatives asked The Star Democrat not to disclose the individual amounts that were donated because “no donation is too big or too small,” Gooding said.

The monuments will honor Talbot County residents who died during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. The memorial will list the names of 59 people — 13 who lost their lives in World War I, 42 in World War II and four in Korea.

The design for the three-monument memorial, by Laser Letters of Easton, was on display during the dinner.

“The design phase took seven months. At the bottom, to give this continuity, there are poppy fields, and this is what took four months to create,” Good said during the Talbot County Council meeting on Jan. 14, 2019. “It is going to be highly polished, so the trees that are next to it and the tree across the sidewalk, hopefully on sunny days the light will reflect, so the monument will have movement, along with the poppy fields.”

The World War I monument will feature a victory medal for World War I, which all participants in that war received. At the bottom is a quote by World War II Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz that reads, “They fought together as brothers in arms. They died together and now they all sleep side by side.”

For World War II, the top of the slab shows the iconic image of the Battle of Iwo Jima. On the bottom is a quote from the chapel of Normandy American Cemetery that reads, “Think not only upon their passing. Remember the glory of their spirit.”

On the top of the Korean War slab is a picture of the participation medal that was given to all participants who were on Korean soil during the conflict. Gooding and Blades went to the Korean Memorial in Washington, D.C., and decided on the quote, “Freedom is not free.”

It was decided to leave space on the Korean War monument for individuals who are listed as missing in action. Research conducted in partnership with the Talbot Historical Society has determined there are some Talbot residents who still could be added, Gooding said.

Gooding handed the check over to Shore Memorials, of Chestertown, Thursday to begin the production of the memorial.

“The donation phase is still active,” Gooding said.

Donations are about halfway to $55,000, the estimated amount needed for the project. Until all the necessary funds are collected, it is difficult to estimate when the project will be completed.

Everyone involved with the project is optimistic about meeting the goal and shares a common motivation for continuing to see the project to completion.

“We don’t want any of these KIAs to be forgotten,” Gooding said.

The KIA Memorial Fund is a component fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, a public foundation designated as a 501(c)(3) charity. Donations can be made online at www.mscf.org (indicate KIA War Memorial as fund name) or mail a check to MSCF-KIA Memorial Fund at 102 E. Dover St., Easton MD 21601.

For more information, call Gooding at 410-714-0990 or email her at ngooding23@aol.com. Blades can be reached at 410-822-4835 or by email at agnesb@goeaston.net.

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