Orwell honors its veterans: New town monument pays tribute to soldiers of three wars

ORWELL — Memorial Day parades are good at providing a yearly reminder of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made by men and women in the armed forces.
Unfortunately, the spotlight on those sacrifices tends to dim when the marching bands have played their final tunes and the confetti has been cleared from the parade routes.
But that wasn’t the case in Orwell on Sunday, when the annual parade was capped by the unveiling of a new veterans’ monument on the town park that will provide an everyday reminder that freedom isn’t free.
Three years in the making, the granite monument — which stands about 4 feet tall by 30 inches wide — pays tribute to Orwell’s 40 Vietnam-era veterans, as well as the combined total of around 60 local soldiers who served in World War II and Korea. The classy tribute supplements a pre-existing monument on the town park that pays homage to Orwell’s World War I veterans.
“I’m excited about it,” Vietnam War-era veteran and Orwell resident Rick Buxton said of the monument. “I think the townspeople have always acknowledged their veterans.”
And this was just another example of their generosity.
It was Buxton and fellow Vietnam War-era veteran Kenny Patterson who spearheaded this latest tribute to Orwell’s finest, some of whom made the supreme sacrifice. Buxton and Patterson approached the Orwell selectboard more than three years ago with their idea. The monument, as they envisioned it, would bear the names of locals who served during the Vietnam era, and would provide a much more fitting home for a plaque in the town hall that featured the names of Orwell’s World War II and Korean War soldiers.
Selectboard members took a shine to the idea, and voters endorsed the concept at the 2014 annual town meeting. So the town formed a monument committee to work on a design and cost estimates. The committee returned to the following town meeting with a plan in hand and a $10,000 request, which earned voter approval.
   EDWARD MARTEL, LEFT, and Shirley Giard unveil the new World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans memorial on the Orwell town green after Sunday’s Memorial Day parade.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
The committee put the monument project out to bid. Bowker & Sons out of West Rutland submitted the winning bid.
“They exceeded our expectations,” Buxton said of Bowker & Sons work. “They helped us many times along the way.”
The company completed the monument in time for its installation following Orwell’s Memorial Day parade on Sunday. More than 300 people looked on as U.S. Navy Lt. Commander (retired) Tom Purdy of Orwell — a former Seabee — delivered an approximately 5-minute speech. Castleton American Legion Post 50 served as honor guard for the event. A Fair Haven Union High School student played taps.
Organizers selected two people with solid Orwell roots to unveil the monument: World War II veteran Edward Martel and Shirley Giard, whose brothers Edward and Allen J. Greene both fought in the Vietnam War. Allen Greene was killed in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam, on Feb. 5, 1969. He was 21.
“It was an honor to be able to do this,” Giard, who now resides in Bridport, said of the monument unveiling.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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