Staff Sgt. Kelly Simon
10th Mountain Division Journalist
There is rarely an occasion where the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum are discussed without mentioning the surrounding community.
The North Country Honors the Mountain ground-breaking ceremony Aug. 12 at Watertown’s Tower Square in Thompson Park was no exception.
Members of the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum Garrison, New York State Legislature and Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence County officials celebrated the start of yet another partnership. The monument will honor the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division from its inception in 1943 at Camp Hale, Colo., to its present-day campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The granite monument will pay tribute to the various phases of the division through bronze reliefs on three sides, with a 10th Mountain Division patch on the fourth.
Colorado sculptress Susan Grant Raymond, who created the Military Mountaineers and Fallen Warrior monuments in Memorial Park on Fort Drum, was commissioned to craft the reliefs on the 40-foot-tall tribute.
The first bronze relief will depict the division during World War II from Camp Hale, Colo., to Italy (1943-1945). The second will focus on 10th Mountain’s participation in contingency operations after the reactivation of the division in 1985 through 2001. The third relief will highlight the division’s parti-cipation in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2001 to present). The fourth side of the monument will feature the iconic 10th Mountain Division patch etched into the granite. It’s under this fourth side that a time capsule will rest until 2035.
The monument project was the brainchild of retired Col. Michael Plummer, president of the Northern New York Chapter of the 10th Mountain Division Association, and retired Lt. Col. Gil Pearsall, chairman of the North Country Honors the Mountain Committee. Their proposal gained legs when they presented it to state and local officials who quickly got behind the idea.
Watertown Mayor Jeffrey Graham spoke about the importance of having the right people in the right place at the right time to help turn ideas like the Thompson Park monument into a reality.
“When I saw Mike Plummer and Mary Corriveau coming through the door, I knew failure wasn’t really an option,” Graham said to those gathered at the future monument site. He continued his praise of the committee’s work on the project, lauding the relationships forged and strengthened between Fort Drum and the local communities through ventures like the monument.
Pearsall, a former Mountaineer and active member in the community as part of the Purple Heart Scholarship Committee, the Car-
thage Area Hospital Foundation Board and an active supporter of the Wounded Warrior Program, was happy to take on the role as chairman of the monument committee.
“What we ultimately want to do with this monument is create a permanent and prominent presence of our support for Fort Drum,” Pearsall said during the ceremony. For the committee and many local residents, it’s not just about another monument, but creating a legacy for generations to come.
That’s where the time capsule comes in. During the official unveiling and dedication planned in July 2016, local community members and 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum officials will place items that represent their piece of the community into the time capsule and bury it during the ceremony.
The capsule will be unearthed in 20 years for the 50th anniversary of the division’s reactivation at Fort Drum.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney “Ray” Lewis, 10th Mountain Division (LI) senior enlisted adviser, spoke during the ceremony, applauding the hard work that went in to get to the groundbreaking and reminding everyone present that without their support, the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum wouldn’t be able to accomplish their mission.
Lewis passed out shovels and hard hats to his fellow groundbreakers, saying it was an honor to be part of this event.
“This monument will not only recognize the contributions and sacrifices of the service members of the 10th Mountain Division, it will stand as a reminder of the cost of freedom and the role our Army has played, and continues to play, in securing the future of this nation,” he said.
For more information about the monument and how you can become involved, visit www.honorthemountain.com