Wareham nonprofits lead the way on new monument to be built near Massachusetts National Cemetery

Apr 9, 2018

Five Wareham nonprofits have joined forces to erect a 15-foot monument honoring all veterans at the entrance of the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. On March 30, Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials gave those working on the project, which will be located on state land off Route 28, permission to move forward with plans.

“This will be for the world to see,” said Bob Powilatis, president of the Friends of the Wareham Veterans Council and American Legion Post 220 commander. “Right now, you wouldn’t know there’s a national cemetery there, but this will be a landmark.”

In addition to the Friends and local American Legion chapter, the Wareham Knights of Columbus, Wareham-New Bedford Lodge of Elks and Dudley L. Brown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post came together to spearhead the project.

Plans, which are still being drafted, call for erecting a stone obelisk, complete with an inscription and eagle statue on top, later this year. Powilatis said the idea for the monument came about after the Vietnam Moving Wall left town last summer. The wall, which attracted thousands of visitors, is a scaled-down replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

Also, Powilatis noted, next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day.

“All of us from the different organizations decided we wanted to do something special, something permanent, for the anniversary,” said Powilatis.

The groups must now raise $45,000 for the monument’s construction. Powilatis said fundraising will take place locally and across the country. Leaders at the national level from the Elks, Knights of Columbus, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have all pledged support, said Powilatis.

He also credited State Rep. Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) for helping to set up the meeting with state transportation officials and offering her support.