The idea of a monument to honor Korea and Vietnam Veterans of Kittery was conceived by Bibb Longcrier in 1989. After researching names from the Veterans Administration in Augusta, Longcrier sought the help of two civic organizations, but he was turned down. So the project was dropped, but the research materials were kept on hand.
At a Kiwanis gathering in 1997, Longcrier was approached to restart the project, with help from some of the club members. They formed a committee and registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. All this took about a year.
They also sought additional names for the monument. As the idea of a monument became known, people wanted their names on it. So the committee had to establish criteria for who was eligible to be named on the monument. They decided that a veteran who served during the Korean War and/or the Vietnam War must meet one of the following:
The committee accepted, without question, the list acquired from the VA in Augusta. The committee required other veterans to submit military records to verify both the qualifications for time of service and their connections to Kittery. Many veterans who currently live in Kittery moved here later in life and thus did not meet the criteria. Most of the committee members were ineligible for that reason. The committee did edit after edit, trying to make sure the list of names was clean and correct.
Design of the monument was influenced by monuments in other towns (especially Greenland and Stratham NH). The committee decided on a center stone – with Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine seals – and two side stones: one for Korea Veterans (about 300 names) and one for Vietnam Veterans (about 475 names).
Raising funds was the most difficult part of the project. As in 1989, there was much less support than expected. Civic organizations, town businesses, and then the town itself failed to support the project. The committee turned to small fundraising projects, such as donation buckets, raffle tickets, and discount coupons. After that, the Indian Motorcycle shop in Kittery and motorcycle clubs from three states stepped up to help in various ways. Rolling Thunder and the United Bikers of Maine invited us to set up a booth at their rallies, including a large rally at the University of New Hampshire, sponsored by a local radio station.
Where to put the monument was also a problem. This monument would have the names of some 750 Kittery veterans, so "drive-by" parks were not acceptable. The committee could not provide long-term care guarantees, since it would be dissolved when the monument was completed. Fortunately, the Kittery Historical and Naval Society volunteered to have the monument placed near their museum and they agreed to its long-term care.
Finally, after donations from three of the committee members, there were sufficient funds for Seacoast Memorials to build the monument. The monument was dedicated on November 11, 2005. Attending were representatives from the offices of US Senator Snowe, US Senator Collins, US Congressman Allen, State Representative Wheeler, Pease Air National Guard, Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard, and the Kittery Town Manager. The VFW and many military veterans also attended. The Marine Corp League provided a color guard. The Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club made a special presentation of an MIA/POW flag and hoisted it up the Museum's flagpole in a touching ceremony.
This monument stands to honor those who served,
and to each, it says, "Welcome home!"