There's nothing anyone can do to ease the pain when a soldier dies overseas. But Fort Drum and members of the surrounding community always promise to never forget what those men and women have done. Tuesday, as our Brian Dwyer reports, they took an important step in keeping that promise.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Never forget. On Fort Drum, there may not be two words with more meaning.
Every month, soldiers, civilians and the community around post gather here at Memorial Park to remember.
"I've been deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq and had friends and comrades that have been killed, so it has a very personal meaning to me," Col. Gary Rosenberg, Fort Drum's Garrison Commander said.
Tuesday, that promise to never forget came to life. A monument honoring those fallen soldiers was unveiled. It's a symbol of their lives and a symbol for everyone else to reflect and emote.
"They're caring friends. They stand there with dignity and strength and respect and calm, but they're full of pain," sculptress Susan Grant Raymond said.
This monument has been in the works for a decade now. But the Army couldn't pay for it and fundraising efforts fell short. That was until two years ago when the Fort Drum civilian workforce took home second place in a national contest for excellence. The prize was $500,000. The civilians donated the money to finish this project.
"They're a part of this too," Rosenberg said. "They've been fighting since 9/11 also. They're working long hours on the gates when the security was increased. The long hours out on the range, out on the airfield."
Raymond also unveiled a second monument nearby. This one is of two soldiers, one watching over another who's extending a hand to a young Afghan child. She says it represents hope and future.
"Fundamentally, it was centered on the idea of winning hearts and minds and making the world better for the children over there," Raymond said.
And as artists often do, Raymond added one small touch. A symbol on the child's sandal, in Afghanistan, means peace. It's meant to be a bridge to the traditional American peace sign you and I recognize. She put one of those on the main monument at Memorial Park she created more than a decade ago.
Raymond says she was initially concerned the Army wouldn't want those peace signs on the original monument she unveiled a decade ago, but was told it was okay because peace is the goal they're striving for.