Brunswick American Legion Cmdr. Dave Watson salutes as Brunswick police present the colors at the Veterans Plaza groundbreaking on Monday. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — William “Chick” Ciciotte and Gilbert Ormsby, two longtime local veterans’ advocates, couldn’t be there to see the groundbreaking of the veterans monument they helped dream up nearly a decade ago, but organizer Dave Watson said he could feel them standing on the podium beside him Monday. 

Monday marked the start of construction of a nearly $500,000 Veterans Plaza designed to honor all veterans who have served the United States, regardless of rank, branch, conflict or status. 

It is, according to Watson and other organizers, “long overdue.” 

Organizers and community members lift their shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the veteran’s plaza. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

Ormsby, who died in June 2017, and Ciciotte, who died in May 2018, initially proposed plans for a purple heart monument, which will be included in the final design, Watson said, planting the seeds for what eventually became the plaza. 

The design includes 445 engraved granite “honor blocks” honoring individual veterans with their names, branch and dates of service or conflict served in, but not their rank. 

The new veterans monument will incorporate the existing downtown monument, which will be turned 180 degrees, as well as a separately funded purple heart monument. Twelve sentinel posts surrounding the plaza will represent the 12 recognized major American conflicts spanning from the American Revolution through the Global War on Terror.

The monument will serve to “mark the history of this nation,” and leave a lasting mark to honor “the many generations that have sacrificed to bring us to this day,” Mark Rockwood, pastor of the Berean Baptist Church said during the invocation. 

It is, according to Gail Kezer, a representative for Sen. Angus King, the finest example of “going beyond saying thank you” and showing thanks instead. 

The plaza initially carried a roughly $250,000 price tag, which was raised to $320,000 last year due to changes in the construction market. Organizers admitted from the get-go that their fundraising goals were aggressive, but announced Monday that so far over $476,000 have been raised. Ultimately, Watson said they hope to raise $500,000 to help maintain the monument in perpetuity.

A formal dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day. 

Comments are not available on this story.