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Pittsfield Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial On Target To Be Unveiled Sep. 11
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
02:35AM / Tuesday, August 25, 2020
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A rendering of the monument that will be placed at Veterans Way Park to honor the Berkshire County residents who died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A monument honoring the five Berkshire County residents who died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is still on track to be unveiled at Veterans Way Park on Sept. 11, the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. 
 
Arnie Perras of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 448 called into the Parks Commission's meeting held on the Zoom platform last week to give an update on the proposed monument and he said it is well on its way to completion.
 
"We have been getting a lot of compliments on this monument from contractors and folks who think it is just a beautiful monument," Perras said. 
 
The piece will be installed near the World War I Peace Memorial, just off the paved way at the top of the stairs on the South Street side of the park.
 
The funds are being raised privately for the black granite marker, its laser carving and installation. The monument committee hit its funding goal and to date has raised $47,845, surpassing its original goal of $45,000.
 
Perras said unanticipated costs have increased this amount closer to $50,000, but the committee is still in striking distance.
 
He cited a sizable state grant as well as other larger donations from various veterans groups. He added that crowdsourcing also contributed to the bottom line. 
 
Some of the money will be used to set up a perpetual care account for the marker. Perras said he hopes to consolidate all of the monument's perpetual care accounts into one.
 
Unistress has installed the footing, foundation, and vault for free, and Bonded Concrete supplied the concrete. A time capsule will sit underneath the monument with materials from the Gold Star families.
 
"The families will be putting things in there from their loved ones that they lost during these wars," Perras said.
 
The five Army soldiers being honored are Sgt. 1st Class Daniel H. Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, who was killed by friendly fire bomb on Dec. 5, 2001, in Afghanistan; Sgt. Glenn R. Allison, 24, of Pittsfield who died Dec. 18, 2003, during physical training in Baghdad, Iraq; Chief Warrant Officer Stephen M. Wells, 29, of North Egremont, who died Feb. 25, 2004, when the helicopter he was in crashed in Habbinayah, Iraq; Spc. Michael R. DeMarsico II, 20, of North Adams, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on Aug. 16, 2012, in Panjway, Afghanistan; and Spc. Mitchell K. Daehling, 24, of Dalton, who also was killed by an IED on May 14, 2013, in Sanjaray, Afghanistan.
 
The capsule will be opened in 2101, 100 years from 2001.
 
Perras said a full-scale model of the monument was created that they plan to use if the actual monument is somehow delayed. He said it is critical that they unveil something on Sept. 11.
 
"It is an important day," he said. "That is the day that started all of these wars, so we don't want to have it on any other day than that." 
 
The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by members of Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group that had been operating out of Afghanistan. The 19 terrorists captured four commercial jets, flying two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon. Passengers on the fourth plane fought back and United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.
 
On the actual unveiling, attendees will be asked to wear masks and social distance. Mayor Linda Tyer and two veterans of the wars will speak.
 
In other business, Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath said now that the city has solid state local aid numbers, some capital projects can go forward.
 
"It's shaping up to be a busy construction season this fall," he said. 
 
At the outset of the pandemic little was known about the state budget. Because of this, the city passed a budget that did not include capital projects.
 
But with the state passing a three-month budget, McGrath said the City Council will review a slate of capital projects that were put on pause.
 
For park, this includes the dog park that is at 100 percent design and Phase 2 of the skate park project. Both of these projects require a local share.  
 
In regard to other projects, McGrath said the West Side Riverway Park should wrap up this month. He said Clapp Park is essentially complete but the splash pad will not be turned on this season.
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