Bob Powilatis, St. Vincent 1411, S. Boston Mass., spearheaded a project in Massachusetts to put COF on the national map. In August 2017, he and his court sponsored a travelling Vietnam Memorial Wall to honor the veterans. When that wrapped up, they asked the question, “What next?”
The answer came in the town of Bourne, Mass., where the Massachusetts National Cemetery is located. Out front, the only marker of the cemetery being there is a sign by the road, which Bob said only people looking for the cemetery would notice. Or at least, this used to be the case. Their next mission became marking the entrance in a grand way to give proper homage to the soldiers buried there and the veterans who live on.
They met with a state senator and other representatives who gave them the green light in April 2018 to construct a monument at the entrance of the cemetery. Bob worked with his court to reach out to other groups in New England to raise money, and as a combined effort, they took all the necessary steps to make this monumental idea become a reality. Though many told them along the way it was going to take years to complete and they would never make it happen, from start to finish the project was done in 10 months. “I’m like a steamroller,” Bob joked. “Once I get going on a project, nothing can stop me.”
The granite monument is surrounded by a wrought iron chain and stands 15 feet tall with an eagle perched atop it, looking down to the left at you as you enter the cemetery. On the front it reads, “To all who served in uniform in defense of our nation,” and shows the sponsors’ logos, COF’s being among them. On the back is a recognition plaque with the name Cliff Avey, former State Chief Ranger of Massachusetts, engraved as a permanent acknowledgment of everything he did to foster the courts’ cooperation with other groups to build the monument.
“It was a labor of love for the veterans and is a breathtaking credit to COF,” Bob said. “I was proud to have taken the lead on this project and ensure that COF was incorporated into the monument.”
The monument was dedicated on October 27, 2018, with several notable figures speaking at the service, such as a congressman and the Secretary of Veteran Services. The landlock where the monument was built has been officially recognized as “Heroes Circle”, honoring the brave men and women who served their country in the Armed Forces, and October 27 has been named “Heroes Circle Awareness Day”.
Though the project may have seemed impossible at the outset, Bob firmly attests to how the stress and sleepless nights were well worth it in the end. He has received many thankful letters from family members of deceased service men or women buried in the cemetery who are grateful to finally have something honoring their loved ones. It ensures their legacy will live on forever, and they will never be forgotten.
Article by Alison Mink.