Woodstock selectmen approve eligibility policy for veterans memorials

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WOODSTOCK — All three selectmen voted Tuesday evening to approve a policy outlining eligibility for having names on all future veterans memorials.

Among the requirements are: Service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard or Merchant Marines; official discharge papers; legal residency in Woodstock when they entered the military and now.

Much of the discussion Tuesday centered on whether a veteran had to be a legal resident of Woodstock to have his or her name on the memorial, or whether being buried in Woodstock would qualify them for inclusion.

“If someone’s been here a month, two months or a year, and they choose to be buried here, but they went into the military in New Jersey, why should they be on our monument?” Town Manager Vern Maxfield asked. “I don’t think that’s right. That’s confusing.”

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Chairman Victor Young agreed with Maxfield, saying his father-in-law was brought up in Cape May, N.J., and entered the military while living there.

“He spent the summer up here since 1995 and lived at the house with me and my wife,” Young said. “He was in the Pacific. He saw action while on a destroyer. He’s buried over at Lakeside Cemetery, has the naval plaque and flags near his gravestone and his name on the veterans memorial. Since his port-of-entry was in New Jersey, should he be honored here? Personally, I don’t think so — but he’s already being honored here.”

Resident and veteran Tom Hartford said the way eligibility works now, he and his father could both technically have their names on the Woodstock memorial.

“I’d be annoyed if that happened, because I didn’t enter the service in Woodstock,” Hartford said. “I think that your name should be placed where your port of entry was.”

Selectman Ron Deegan asked Elsie Bonney, a member of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, what effect it would have on the new memorial if the policy required veterans to be legal residents of Woodstock.

“It means a heck of a lot of names would have to be removed,” Bonney said. “I’ve been gathering names for the list for a while, and there’s a lot of people who think their names are going on. If the policy states that people buried in Woodstock no longer qualify, I’d have to remove a lot of names.”

Deegan said the eligibility policy should “go into effect from today onward.”

“We should follow this procedure after we approve it, but I don’t think it should affect anybody who’s already on the memorial,” he said.

“I hate to say it, but it’s kind of like a grandfather clause,” Young said. “If we pass this policy, it wouldn’t affect anybody who is already on the memorial, or has been approved to be on the memorial. It’s for anyone who applies to be on the memorial from this point on.”

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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