CANAAN — About 100 people gathered outside the Canaan Public Library on a chilly Sunday afternoon to celebrate the dedication of the new veterans memorial in this small Somerset County town.

Townspeople, veterans, American Legion members and members of the Elks Lodge came together to celebrate the new monument, which was installed just a few weeks ago, according to the veterans memorial committee.

“We hope we made a memorial that the town of Canaan, our veterans and everyone else can be proud of,” said committee member and veteran Dale Burrill. “To all of you, the town and this committee want to thank you.”

The Canaan Veterans Memorial includes names of people who lived in Canaan when they were drafted or enlisted in the military and goes as far back as the Revolutionary War. A 30-foot flagpole stands next to the memorial site.

The first speaker, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Larry Burrill, Dale’s younger brother who now lives in Philadelphia, said he returned to his hometown for the dedication because he wanted to do his part.

Larry Burrill told the crowd about how he had heard gunshots while taking a walk on Notch Road while back in town, and how he had realized he felt no fear.

“That’s not the way it is around the world,” he said. “The people listed on this memorial enlisted to protect these freedoms.”

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Susan Horsman, now a certified registered nurse anesthetist and member of the local Elks Lodge, asked the audience to think back to the past. She talked about what it means to see names from the Civil War and world wars on the memorial.

“Did someone who went to school here serve at Iwo Jima? In the conflict we call the Vietnam War?” Horsman said to a teary-eyed audience. “They may have worked the land or in the mills, but they all raised their hands to pledge allegiance to this nation.”

Horsman talked about how war has changed, how there is no longer a “front line” or trenches, and how the enemy is harder to identify. But, she said, “men and women from Canaan still answer the call to protect us in these times.”

At the end of her speech, Horsman called on the town to remember all veterans, whether they died serving their country or were back in their hometowns.

“Remember those who are fallen, say thanks to those who are still here and say a prayer for those who still serve overseas,” she said.

When the speakers finished, Dale asked all the veterans in the audience to raise their hands, and the audience clapped in gratitude.

“Thank you for your service, all of you,” Dale said.

Ron Page, the past post commander of American Legion Post 39 in Madison, officially dedicated the memorial.

Everyone who attended was invited to coffee and snacks after the ceremony.

The Canaan Veterans Memorial was first thought of nearly 25 years ago, and a committee was formed and raised about $12,000, said Maureen Olson, chair of the revived veterans memorial committee.

Olson said the committee is excited that the memorial is finally completed.

“I think it’s important for the town to have (the memorial) for the recognition of the veterans finally,” she said. “We may be a small town, but we had a lot of people go in (to the service).”

Last fall the town voted at a special town meeting to give $11,000 to the committee from its capital reserve account. The committee also received about $4,500 in donations and about $6,000 from fundraising events and raffles, Olson said. The committee also received in-kind and labor donations for site work and installation.

The total cost of the memorial, which was installed by Elias Monuments in Madison, was $25,000.

The committee is also selling engraved pavers to those who do not meet the requirements to be put on the memorial. The money from pavers will help pay for future maintenance costs, Olson said.

 


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