- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2016

THORNTON, N.H. (AP) - Along Memorial Way at New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, visitors walk through a wooded area dotted with monuments to citizens killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

But for the family of Specialist Marc Paul Decoteau, who was killed in Afghanistan, there isn’t anything recognizing the sacrifices he and dozens of others from the Granite state have made since 9/11.

They do have buildings, flag poles and sports tournaments named in their honor. Yet a monument at the state’s most important war cemetery would go a long ways to affirming their sacrifices were no different than the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy or fought in the jungles of Vietnam.

That recognition will come on Memorial Day, when the Global War on Terror Monument is unveiled at the cemetery. Inspired by a similar monument in Vermont, and only the second of its kind in the nation, the 12-foot-tall granite memorial will feature four “hero walls” with the names of 50 men mostly killed training for or fighting in conflicts from Iraq to Afghanistan since 9/11.

The memorial also has a globe on top, benches representing all five military branches, as well as a helmet, combat boots, dog tags and an inverted rifle - known as a field memorial.

“It brings together the idea that Marc wanted to serve something bigger than himself,” said Nancy Decoteau, referring to her son who was killed in 2010, 19 days after he got to Afghanistan.

“All of their names together show it’s a group of people who had that same commitment to their country,” she said. “It’s good for people to see that.”

The monument was the idea of Preston Lawrance, who is part of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary’s Civil Air Patrol. He was on a visit to Vermont’s state veterans’ cemetery in Randolph Center two years ago when he spotted their Global War on Terror memorial. Moved by the monument and soon recognizing that New Hampshire had nothing like it, Lawrance set about raising $100,000 for the monument. He called on Dana Morissette - who designed the one in Vermont - to do something similar in New Hampshire.

“I have a real love and appreciation for veterans, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Lawrance said. “This war has not ended. It continues and we will lose additional personnel as this war progresses.”

Morissette wanted the memorial to reflect an “element of grieving” but also illustrate the “reverence and pride for the great sacrifices and bravery” of these young men.

For several of the families, the monument serves to reaffirm that their children died for something they believed in.

“I’ve heard comments to the effect that he took his chances,” Donna Ouellette said of her son, Michael, of Manchester, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. “He knew that was his job.”

Cpl. Brandon Garabrant, of Greenfield, died in Afghanistan in 2014. His mother, Jessie Kelley, said knowing that her son’s name is on the monument reminds her that Brandon’s death was not in vain.

“People will see his name there and know he died for us. He died for the country,” Kelley said.

At the Decoteau house in Thornton, the family has done plenty to remember their son who died at just 19. There’s a room set aside in their house dedicated to him including photos from his funeral and one of soldiers from his unit praying over his gravesite in Watervillle Valley. The couple will be at the veteran’s cemetery Monday for the unveiling.

“He wanted Army buddies,” Marc Decoteau said of his son. “To have him on this monument, that is him being with his buddies.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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