Charlotte’s Town Green takes shape as World War II monument is transplanted
By Geeda Searfoorce | The Charlotte News
As the sun makes its way west across the sky this Veterans Day, a new and commanding shadow on Charlotte’s Town Green will shift with each passing hour. On Oct. 12, the World War II monument commemorating Charlotters who served made the trek from Charlotte Central School down the hill to a prominent location just outside of Town Hall.
Originally installed at CCS when the library portion of the school building, built in 1939, was the Charlotte Town Hall, the monument lists 98 veterans—four of whom died in service or were killed in action.
The heavy lifting and careful attention that Jr Lewis, Gary French and Jeff Kuhn of Kuhn Memorials paid to the monument on that bright October morning are just a piece of the story. As part of a decade-long project to improve the green and find a suitable way to honor Charlotte’s veterans, the monument’s move was the result of concentrated planning and effort by a number of community members.
In 2005, a Monument Committee was appointed to look into the best way to protect, preserve and highlight the town’s existing monuments. Committee members Jim Donovan, Tom Larson, Mary Lighthall, Beth Merritt, Happy Patrick and Jenny Cole worked on compiling complete lists of Charlotte veterans and developed a concept for a monument garden on the Town Green, where the World War II monument could be moved. The committee concluded that the town’s World War I monument should remain in place, though new granite curbing was installed to protect the plantings done by community volunteers.
The task was not always easy. Inaccuracies in record keeping in early conflicts made it difficult to come up with a correct number of Charlotters fallen in service. Even lists for more recent wars were found to have omissions, with some Charlotte veterans listed in neighboring town rosters. The lists do not include veterans who moved to Charlotte after their service or people who have served in recent conflicts where lists were not yet available.
Approximately 350 Charlotte residents have served in conflicts since the early years of our town’s history. Twenty-nine people died during their service. The Civil War list contains 104 names, including 38 soldiers recruited from other towns and seven “substitutes.” There were 38 Charlotte residents who served in the Korean War, and 72 in the Vietnam War. Two people are on the list for Operation Desert Storm 1990-91.
In 2012, a Town Green and Monument Committee was appointed and tasked with coming up with a plan to replace the non-native invasive shrubs and unhealthy trees near the Town Hall and to suggest other ways to improve the Town Green. Committee members and participants included Jessie Bradley, Church Hill Landscapes, Bob Chutter, Dan Cole, Jenny Cole, Winslow Ladue, Dave Marshall, Stanley Lane, Happy Patrick and Sue Smith.
In addition to the natural landscape planning, the committee revisited the planning done by the previous Monument Committee and incorporated earlier ideas into the current recommendations. In spring of 2013, non-native shrubs were removed and native trees and shrubs planted on the south and east sides of the Town Hall. At Town Meeting, townspeople approved an advisory motion to have the World War II monument moved to a monument garden on the Town Green.
In September 2013, after a very wet spring, the committee concluded that the focus should shift to resolving drainage problems on the green—and that the committee should pursue a simplified version of the monument garden concept. A Town Green drainage plan was developed pro bono by civil engineer Dave Marshall, and the town worked to obtain the necessary permits for the project.
“It was wonderful seeing so many community members get involved and help with this important project,” said committee member Jenny Cole. “It’s so important to remember our veterans and to do so together as a town.” At a ceremony planned for this Veterans Day at the Senior Center on Nov. 11 Charlotters can do just that. See page 16.
For more information about the monument or the Veterans Day commemoration, contact the Charlotte Town Hall at 425-3071 or the Charlotte Senior Center at 425-6345.
For the World War II monument’s move and installation, special thanks go to:
The Friends of the Charlotte Library
Marine Corps League Detachment 606
Members of the Charlotte 250th Anniversary Committee
The Charlotte Selectboard
The crew from Vermont Roads and Fields
In addition to the World War II monument now on the Town Green, other monuments honoring Charlotte soldiers include:
The World War I monument at the intersection of Greenbush Road and Ferry Road (by the Old Brick Store) lists 37 Charlotte veterans, three of whom died in service or were killed in action. The granite monument’s inscription reads:
We hold that the right to govern is with and by the consent of the governed
The memorial and dedication at Charlotte Beach for Fred St. George, Sergeant, U.S.M.C., who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967. The memorial’s inscription reads:
We shall not see our brave and young, fall to the sad chance of war, unsung
A plaque in memory of Sgt. Alan N. Bean, Jr., who served in the Vermont Army National Guard, is on a large stone moved from the former Bean property on Hinesburg Road to a location opposite Spear’s Corner Store. Alan was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. The plaque’s inscription reads:
Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release
From little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.