Group receives $13,600 for Honor Wall project

  • James Cornwell, an Air Force veteran and member of the Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials, is part of the effort to expand Orange’s Honor Wall to include the names of those who have fought in conflicts since the Vietnam War. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2019 11:14:02 PM
Modified: 5/2/2019 11:13:50 PM

ORANGE — For a committee that runs entirely off donations and grants, getting $13,600 in one night goes a long way toward preserving the memorials that honor Orange’s 705 veterans.

The Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials is responsible for the annual upkeep on the World War I Peace Statue — the official peace statue of Massachusetts — and maintaining the 11 soldiers’ monuments in the town’s cemeteries.

It also repaints Memorial Park’s cannons and looks after the Honor Roll Wall, on which is inscribed the names of Orange residents who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

The committee accepted two checks at its last meeting, including $10,000 from American Legion Post 172 in Orange.

Another $3,600 came from an anonymous donor — a gift replacement for a grant the committee was unsuccessful in receiving.

“It’s huge,” said James Cornwell, an Air Force veteran and a member of the trustees.

The money is going toward an expansion of the Honor Roll Wall.

In a town where roughly 9 percent of the population are military veterans, it’s only right that the wall be expanded to include the names of those who have fought in wars and conflicts since Vietnam, Cornwell said.

Those who fought in the Gulf War, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other conflicts, will be memorialized on a future version of the wall.

The expansion is the Trustees’ “main project,” Cornwell said, and the committee has voted to commission Athol Granite Works for the job after several consultations.

It is still too early to tell how much the project will cost overall, Cornwell said, and whether or not the project will be a literal, physical expansion of the wall or the building of a smaller adjacent wall to include the new names.

However, the committee can start by getting new flags and lighting to adorn the memorial, Cornwell said.

Earlier this year, Cornwell shared some of the history of the committee and Honor Roll Wall. The committee had an original charge of replacing an older memorial in front of Wheeler Library. This led to the current Honor Roll Wall’s unveiling at the town’s 2010 Memorial Day ceremony. However, including the names of younger veterans was always a plan, Cornwell said.

“This has been talked about since the wall that’s there now was in its planning stages,” said Cornwell.

Cornwell added the memorials in town have an emotional impact on veterans. As a serviceman during the Vietnam War era, Cornwell saw soldiers portrayed and treated poorly in the 1960s and 1970s. He says things are different today, and soldiers are respected. Orange is an example of that.

“It’s pretty rewarding now to see the reception these guys get and the accolades these guys get,” Cornwell said. “That’s why we’re doing this.”

The members of the Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorials include Cornwell, his wife, Judy Cornwell, Michelle LeBlanc, Christopher Marshall, Bruce St. John and Scott Hubbard.

Reach David McLellan at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

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