By Robin Alberti
WEST RUTLAND — On Saturday, Aug. 16, the parking lot of Bailey Motors in West Rutland was transformed to host a down-home chicken barbecue fundraiser.
A committee of residents, veterans and decedents of those who served in WWII, formed almost a year ago to create a new granite memorial honoring local WWII veterans. The new memorial would replace the wooden memorial that was constructed in front of the high school in West Rutland in 1943. The wooden memorial deteriorated over time and was removed in the late 1970s.
An impressive number of citizens from West Rutland severed in WWII. At the time of the war, there were approximately 3,500 people living in the region, and almost 600 men and women from West Rutland alone serving in the military. That is a huge percentage of the population of this small town in Vermont that risked their lives serving our country.
These honorable men and women deserve to be recognized for their service, and that is what inspired the fundraising effort for a granite memorial to be constructed on the lawn of the town offices, the committee members explain.
Additionally, at the Memorial Day celebration held at West Rutland High School this year, Josh Butler, sales manager at Baileys Motors, heard US Navy Veteran Emmett Francois speak. This speech inspired Butler and his wife, Heather, to do something to help with the fundraising effort for a new memorial.
“We wanted to do more than just write a check,” Butler said, who loves to cook. He decided to organize a chicken barbecue to help the committee meet its goal of $60,000 to erect the memorial. Baileys Motors generously donated their parking lot, and many local businesses stepped up with other donations to help the event succeed.
Kyle Terrien, one of the grill masters for the day, told The Mountain Times that the line for the $10 per plate meal was so long they had to bring in two extra grills to keep up with demand! Along with the grilled chicken, delicious salads, chips and soda were included. A bake sale also help raise money, and Stewarts was there scooping out ice cream. The amount of support from local residents was overwhelming.
Joe Czachor, one of the three remaining WWII veterans from West Rutland said at the event, “You go to Rutland and you see memorials, but where are the WWII veterans? Where would we be today if it wasn’t for WWII vets?”
The committee of residents raising funds for the construction of the memorial are clearly working diligently together to make this happen. There is no president of the committee, just a group of local folks who have come together to do something for the veteran’s of WWII. The memorial is a way to recognize their service, and stand as a reminder to younger generations of the sacrifice our soldiers made so we can enjoy the freedoms of living in America.
The event was a community success thanks to the generous support of community members, volunteers and many area businesses.
Additional donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/westrutlandWWIImemorial or by mailing a check written to Town of West Rutland, with “WWII Memorial” in the memo. Mail checks to Town of West Rutland, 35 Marble St, West Rutland, VT 05777.