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War monument groundbreaking held

By Staff | Jul 18, 2013

It has sometimes taken decades for cities and towns to erect monuments for those who have fought for their countries.

The city of Cape Coral isn’t about to make that mistake with those who have served in Iraq.

Wednesday, ground was broken for an Iraq War monument at the Veterans Memorial Area at the Eco Preserve at Four Mile Cove, that will be among the first in the nation to honor those who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.

“We’re all helping our brothers and sisters. The men and women who fought for us, keep us free, is a brotherhood which we call veterans,” said Alan Classon, honor guard member of the VFW Post 8463. “They blend back into the community and you don’t notice them until they tell you they’re veterans.”

The VFW hosted the event, which included speeches from the mayor, as well as numerous Iraq War veterans.

Perhaps most honored was Iraq War veteran Michelle Rosenberger, who was emotional as she spoke of the work of their committee, especially that of Carl Nawskon, an Iraq War veteran who died Tuesday and for whom the event was dedicated.

“This will be the first monument in the country to honor everyone wounded, killed in service, and those who served,” Rosenberger said before showing a picture of Nawskon. “And I want to dedicate it to Carl. This is for him, his family, everybody.”

Work on the monument is expected to begin in November. Where it goes from here depends on how much money can be raised to construct it, according to Mayor John Sullivan, who for two years has spearheaded the effort.

“It all depends on how we can get donations. People need to understand we’re going to need money to build this,” Sullivan said. “We have the place and the people, we need the funds.”

Sullivan said he expects the monument to cost up to $50,000, including future upkeep.

The VFW held a contest for the design of the monument. Xavier Pinero, 14, came up with a simple design of a granite star, with the words “Iraq War Heroes” engraved on the front, along with the names of the three locals who died there.

“When I made the design, I hoped I was honoring the Iraq vets. When I won, it was so humbling,” Pinero said. “It’s an honor to have won, and to have this built for all troops. Freedom is not free and it wouldn’t be possible without them.”

The monument will by seven feet tall, six-and-a-half-feet wide and 14 inches thick, where the dog tags of those who served will be engraved. 12-foot-by-12-foot brick pavers will be underfoot, just as they are throughout the rest of the park.

“The star is everything to us. It stands for anyone who served in a war,” Rosenberger said.

Sullivan said there’s no better time than the present to honor those who served, even if the war only ended two years ago and there are still many in Afghanistan.

“I’m very excited this is finally coming to fruition because it’s something that honors our veterans. I didn’t want this to be like World War II where by the time they got around to build a monument, most of them were already gone,” Sullivan said. “They deserve to see the fruits of their labor.”