Reflective memorial to fallen Connecticut service members to be installed at Goodwin College in East Hartford
A shining memorial to Connecticut men and women who died in wars spanning 2½ centuries arrived at Goodwin College Thursday.
The Connecticut Fallen Star Memorial honors approximately 30,000 fighters from the state who were killed in battles from Bunker Hill to Fallujah. A dedication ceremony — to be attended by 20 of the state’s Gold Star mothers — is set for Nov. 9.
Trucked up from Maryland to a campus site donated by the college, the memorial will center on a 6,000-pound star lodged in the earth, the uppermost of three spires reaching 23 feet high. Bronze statues to be placed around the polished stainless steel sculpture include a woman holding a photo and dog tags, a child and a man, all representing Gold Star families.
Sculptor Will Hemsley said the burnished star will reflect the blue sky, the green grass and all the colors of people passing by on the campus and nearby Route 2. The image of the star, the Maryland-based artist said, ties into the American flag, the military and the concept of a spirit fallen to earth.
U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, sparked the idea for the memorial after attending the dedication of a similar monument by Hemsley and his father, Tilghman Hemsley, in Maryland. Installed in 2015-16, the smaller Fallen Star memorial at at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground also includes an embedded star, meant to honor slain warriors and particularly Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, who died in Afghanistan in 2014 and was the first U.S. general to be killed in a war zone since Vietnam. Greene had served at Aberdeen.
Larson was moved by the memorial and started discussions about a Connecticut version to honor all of the state’s slain warriors in one place, Goodwin College administrator and project coordinator Rich McCarty said.
“As we know, freedom has a price," Larson said. "We must never forget the immense sacrifice that Connecticut’s bravest military and first responders have made for our state and our country. We must always be mindful of their service, and the pain and loss of their families. This beautiful memorial is but a small gesture to express our deep gratitude.”
A committee of veterans, government officials, business representatives and Gold Star families was formed. Discussions about a site at first included Pratt & Whitney property in East Hartford, but organizers wanted the memorial to be accessible, like the Iwo Jima memorial at Central Connecticut State University, McCarty said. Goodwin President Mark Scheinberg offered to donate land near the college’s new manufacturing education annex, which is to be completed in January. Fundraising through the Goodwin College Foundation is about halfway to the goal of $250,000, McCarty said.
The star is to be assembled from three segments and then the bronze figures will be installed, Hemsley said. The dedication, set for 1 p.m. at the Pent Road site, will be open to the public. To donate to the memorial, visit https://www.goodwin.edu/giving/fallen-star.