Fort Drum unveils new monuments to fallen soldiers
FORT DRUM — The memories of soldiers lost. The hope for a peaceful future.
Those ideals were on display with the new Fallen Warriors Monument, unveiled Tuesday morning at the post’s Memorial Park.
The bronze monument, created by Boulder, Colo.-based sculptor Susan Grant Raymond, is broken into two parts. One part depicts a group of soldiers honoring a fallen comrade, represented by helmet, boots and rifle, as a single soldier in front covers his face while kneeling at the display.
“What I wanted to convey is the camaraderie, that there’s a context for the fallen soldier,” Ms. Raymond said. “They’re caring friends, and still they stand there with dignity and strength and respect and calm, but they’re full of pain. When they get the chance to go pay respects, they do show emotion.”
The second part features a pair of soldiers on patrol, with the second soldier reaching out to a young boy trailing them. Col. Gary A. Rosenberg, the post’s garrison commander, said the symbolism of the bond between the soldiers and the child made it the favorite of Nathan E. Morrell, a key planner of the monument who died in March.
“This connection to the people we’re protecting, this connection to the shared humanity,” he said. “As those who have been to war can tell you, this connection is what leads to lasting peace.”
Also credited with the monument’s planning was garrison employee Jeff Fox.
Ms. Raymond also was responsible for the post’s Military Mountaineer monument, which was unveiled in 1991.
The monument project had been conceptualized for about a decade, but had fallen to the wayside as funding could not be found to support it. However, the project was relaunched in 2011 after the post won the Army Community of Excellence silver award that year, an award that came with a $500,000 prize.
Col. Rosenberg said the decision to put the money toward the monument was a way to honor the approximately 300 10th Mountain Division soldiers who have died during deployments since 2001, and the hard work of civilian workers supporting the post’s soldiers and families.
The sculptures also helped visualize the deployment of John P. Paulik, who sent photos he and other soldiers took to Ms. Raymond through a mutual friend while deployed to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, in 2006 and 2007.
Many of those photos helped inspire the final monuments, and Ms. Raymond used Mr. Paulik’s nose for one of the two soldiers depicted on patrol. Mr. Paulik said the young boy depicted in the monument was based on a boy named Habib who worked around his unit’s camp.
Mr. Paulik said the monument displayed the full range of him and other soldiers work overseas.
“We’re still taking care of business, but we’re also reaching out and making connections,” he said.
The new monument carries over Ms. Raymond’s use of the peace sign from the 1991 monument, which can be found at the end of the rifle carried by one of the climbing soldiers. On the new statue, one of the sandals of the trailing boy includes the symbol for peace in Farsi, one of Afghanistan’s major languages.