By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — After one false start, the effort to erect a monument to Swampscott men and women who have fought and died in the war against Mideast terrorists will climax with a dedication on Monument Avenue tomorrow, Veterans Day.
The cost of the war has been extraordinarily high in Swampscott. Thus, the monument will include, prominently, the names of two Swampscott natives killed in Iraq, U.S. Army Spc. Jared Raymond, killed at age 20 by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006, and Capt. Jennifer Harris, a 28-year-old Marine helicopter pilot, shot down and killed in Iraq in 2007.
“It’s so wonderful for him to be remembered and all the kids,” said Agnes Raymond, Jared’s grandmother. “So people just don’t forget.”
The Harris family is also expected to attend, along with local officials, the Boston University ROTC and the Lynn English Marine ROTC, bagpipers and buglers, according to Veterans’ Agent Jim Schultz.
“The monument is dedicated to the men and women of Swampscott who have enlisted in the military since Sept. 11, 2001,” Schultz said. Their names will be on the Global War on Terror memorial.
The monument is described as an obelisk about 4 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide with end columns. It will be located between the Vietnam and Korean memorials, according to Schultz. It was decided not to list the names alphabetically in order to encourage those looking for a friend or relative to linger over others.
Places remain for new names as the war continues.
Veterans and those still serving should be encouraged, Schultz said. “When someone sees something like this, they know they’re being remembered. It says that the town cares and is acknowledging their service.”
It’s important, Schultz continued, that the men and women who served, as well as their families and the families of the fallen, can see the monument now, before too much time elapses.
“For Vietnam, the monument (went up) 20 years after the fact,” Schultz said. “For Korea, it was 20 years after the fact. For the Revolution, it was 200 years.”
A committee formed by the selectmen obtained the monument in the aftermath of a controversy in 2009, after a Millbury company offered a free statue that was later rejected by the town. Some found that particular stone memorial, depicting a U.S. soldier and the letters “USA,” to be out of character for Monument Avenue, which features more subdued and traditional stone markers.
Private donations paid for the new monument, with funeral director David Solimine making a significant contribution, according to Schultz.
“We’re the land of the free because of the brave,” Agnes Raymond said. She remembered Jared’s eagerness to serve his country after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “We couldn’t change his mind. He had to go.”
Likewise, Harris was just days away from returning home from her third tour of duty in Iraq when she volunteered to pick up wounded Marines and fly them to a casualty station, and then to go out on a second mission to supply critically needed blood.
Agnes Raymond expects to see her grandson’s friends at tomorrow’s ceremony, people he grew up with and served with. Some have gone on to become policewomen and firemen, she said.
Meanwhile, Jared’s mother, Jackie Raymond, continues to work at the Lynn Public Schools.
“I think it keeps her strong,” Agnes said. “She’s around kids all the time. And I think that’s a good thing.”