GLENS FALLS — After six years of fundraising, the Global War on Terrorism Monument is finally set to be unveiled Saturday in Crandall Park.
“When I see this thing, I know I’m going to cry, because it is a long time coming and I put my heart and soul (into it),” said Belinda Ellis, co-director of the Global War on Terrorism Monument Committee.
The initiative to build the monument was started in 2012 by former South Glens Falls resident Steven Dean, a retired U.S. Navy officer who was stationed in Afghanistan in 2007. When he arrived home, he heard about the local men and women killed in action and wanted to create something to honor their sacrifice, according to a 2017 Post-Star story.
Ellis said that Dean was hit particularly hard by the death of Nathan Brown, a South Glens Falls High School graduate who died in Iraq in 2004.
“He’s had some close calls himself, so that was really devastating to him,” she said of Dean’s reaction to Brown’s death. “He thought: ‘What an honor to be able to do something to recognize these young men and women that are serving or have served,’” she said.
Dean came to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2475 chapter in Glens Falls with his proposal for a monument to honor veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, according to Ellis.
“We embraced the idea, and we just hit the road running,” she said.
The project was a partnership between the VFW and Adirondack Veterans House. A team of about six to eight adults and four children have worked on the project, according to Ellis.
Loiselle Monuments designed the 6-foot-tall structure, which is made of black granite and has a stainless steel sword running through it. The monument contains four pictures on it that were significant to the war.
The monument is located on grassy triangle near the Harry Crandall Monument.
The budget for the monument initially was set at $100,000 — $50,000 for the monument itself and $50,000 for the landscaping, according to Ellis.
The committee was able to raise $50,000 through fundraisers, such as golf tournaments and motorcycle rides, to pay for the monument, according to Ellis. It was able to get generous donations from local construction firms to install concrete foundation, according to Ellis.
In the spring, they will work on the landscaping, including a path around the monument.
The project also has received grants from Glens Falls National Bank, the Golub Foundation and Stewart’s Shops. Individuals have made donations, and children even held fundraisers at school where they paid $1 to wear a red shirt and raised a couple hundred dollars.
Dean had to relocate his family to Virginia for work, but the fundraising continued.
“It’s amazing the way the community has kind of held together as far as donations,” she said.
Ellis, who is a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, said she is pleased the project has finally come to fruition.
“I’ve seen the young men and women come in here. I’ve seen some of the things that they’ve suffered. They’ve got some stories. For me, it’s a huge passion,” she said.
“This is one of the greatest things that I will ever do because I wasn’t able to have children, so I have no legacy. I tell people: ‘This is my legacy,’” she added.
Juanita Salas-Jackson, military liaison with the New York State Police and a U.S. Army Iraq War veteran, will be the keynote speaker. A free spaghetti lunch at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2475 at 30 Cooper St. will follow the event.