SKOWHEGAN — Ambrose “Tom” McCarthy Jr. served in Germany with the Army during the Vietnam War and remembers soldiers of the era being greeted with disrespect upon their return home. McCarthy said he wanted to do something in his hometown to bring dignity back to the veterans who put their lives on the line protecting their country.

Ten years ago, McCarthy, now 73, headed up a committee to honor those veterans and all the other men and women who served in the U.S. military. The committee established the Skowhegan Veterans Park with granite slabs and marble monuments etched with the names of people – living and dead – who had served in the armed services.

The Veterans Memorial Park was installed next to the Municipal Building in front of the original monuments placed to honor veterans of the Revolutionary and Civil wars and World War I.

A central brick walkway, lined with granite benches and flat granite stones with names – including McCarthy’s – leads to new monuments dedicated to veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Another monument was added for veterans of Bosnia, the Gulf War, Kosovo, Somalia and Afghanistan.

On Friday – Veterans Day in America – McCarthy and others will observe the 10th anniversary of the park with a rededication ceremony. The event will feature invited guests, speeches and the release of balloons, each with the name of a veteran inside it.

Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in the downtown park, next to the Skowhegan Opera House.

“We had been talking about it for years and it just didn’t happen,” McCarthy said, looking back 10 years. “I felt that, being a Vietnam veteran, the treatment was not what it should have been when they came home. As long as you wore a uniform, you were not necessarily the most popular citizen in town, so I felt I should do something.”

He said he headed up the committee in 2006 and was assisted later by Ann and Steve Spaulding, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. Ann later took over the planning and remains in charge of the scheduled events.

The criterion for having a name etched onto the walls was that the person had to be from Skowhegan or must have enlisted at the recruitment office in Skowhegan.

McCarthy, who was an artillery sergeant during the Vietnam War, said fundraising for the park’s new sections began in 2003 with a goal of about $80,000 to $100,000. The final tally came in at almost $250,000, he said.

“It includes everything that you see when you walk onto the grounds,” he said.

“All the granite, all the stones, all the pavers that have been dedicated to people and all the engraving on the stones for each war, the labor, the fences on the outside, the chains, the benches.”

Added to the 2006 park two years later was a marble spire with the names of war dead.

McCarthy said once local people, businesses and organizations were confident in 2006 that the project was actually happening, they “came out of the walls” to contribute to the park.