Couple Seeks New Home for Statue of Soldier After Town Says 'No Thanks'
Thursday, August 06, 2009
By Jennifer Lawinski
Mark and Debra Blain are looking for a new home for their statue of a soldier.
A Massachusetts couple is looking for a new home for a granite statue they built to honor American troops fighting overseas after the town that they planned to donate it to declined their offer after residents complained.
Mark and Debra Blain, owners of Fireplace Mantels Etc., in Millbury, Mass., told FOXNews.com that they created the prototype statue depicting an American soldier in uniform standing in front of a stone U.S.A and waving American flag and decided they wanted to give it away.
After watching the film "Taking Chance," in which Kevin Bacon plays a U.S. Marine bringing a fallen comrade home, the Blains decided they wanted to donate it to an area town that didn't have the funds on hand to build their own monument.
"That movie moved us so much that after the movie we said let's give it away to a deserving town or organization that would proudly display it," Debra Blain told FOXNews.com.
The Blains decided to enlist the help of the Boston VA and solicit letters from communities on why they would like the statue. They formed a committee along with one veteran from each branch of the armed services Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.
They decided to give it to the town of Swampscott, Mass., after receiving a moving letter from Swampscott Veterans Agent Jim Schultz about residents that had died in combat.
The town's Board of Selectmen decided two weeks ago to accept the statue, but voted on Tuesday to rescind their acceptance, according to a report in the Boston Herald.
Town Administrator Andrew Maylor told the Herald that after selectmen's initial vote, residents raised concerns about its proposed location and the lack of community input before the vote.
“As it relates to Swampscott, it was not consistent with what has been historically placed on Monument Avenue,” Maylor told Blain in an e-mail rejecting the couple's offer, the Herald reported.
Debra Blain, whose brother is a retired Coast Guard officer and whose father died in WWII, said that they plan to continue to solicit letters to find the statute a new home, but that she would prefer it not go to a cemetery.
"We had a lot of cemeteries apply for it to, but we wanted it to be about everybody that's still there," she said.
"We didn't want it to be the typical monument that looks like a gravestone. We want it to be a visual sculpture that when you drove by it, you would remember that there is a conflict going on and even in every day live to remember and give prayer that somebody's over there and not home with us," she said.
Mark Blain said he couldn't believe the controversy surrounding the statue and the town's rejection of it, but the controversy could be helping his cause.
"It caused like 45 more applications, so we're going to do it again. It does have a positive outcome. Every phone call to us was a vet absolutely disgusted with what's going on," he said.
"We're going to turn around and do it gain, but this time we're going to make sure they're all cleared before we even get involved in it."