It has been almost a year since the official establishment of the Veterans Memorial Committee.

Recently, I interviewed the Chair of that committee, Greg Whalen, and found out how the committee came to be found, what updates he could provide me with, and what plans might lay in store for the future.

It turns out his curiosity was the spark needed to form the committee.

For years Greg and his wife Vicki had repeatedly visited Rangeley and eventually they wound up purchasing a seasonal camp. Then, in the fall of 2019, they decided to downsize and move on to the next chapter. It was around that time, when they were looking for a permanent four-season home, when he recalls visiting the Veterans Memorial, at the entrance to the town park, and noticed that the memorial had not been updated since 1993 with the conflict in Somalia. He recalled. “Immediately my reaction was ‘Wow, how come? Why hasn’t it been updated since?’ I mean at that point we were well involved in our global war on terrorism. And so, I made a note that at some point I would make an official inquiry.”

He did just that when moving here permanently from southern Maine in 2020. Whalen explained. “So, I met with, at the time Keith Savage, who is a veteran and Director of Public Works at the time, and Town Manager Joe Roach, and indicated to them my interest in wanting to see if we could mount an effort to update the names on the wall. And they were all on board and said ‘Absolutely.’”

Chair of the Veterans Memorial Committee, Greg Whalen, on site. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

After digging out the file, they came to find only a few citizens who were on the original committee.  Most of the previous members were thought to had either passed, moved away, or were no longer active members in the community. To reboot the effort, it would necessitate putting a new committee together and advance it through the appropriate town protocols of getting established, regulated, and populated within the appropriate bylaws. Thus began the journey.


In April of 2022 the Town approved the bylaws for the Veterans Memorial Committee. “It was established as an advisory committee as opposed to a standing committee. So that was a choice that we all made collectively. To identify it on an advisory basis, as opposed to a permanent standing committee of the Town.”

From that point on, the goal was to populate it. He made calls to some individuals in the area, some of whom were veterans, to see if they might be interested in serving on the committee.

Due to employment changes, original veteran members of the committee such as Jim Quimby and Keith Savage, while still valuable resources, have since been replaced.

Besides Whalen, the current committee consists of veterans Albert Clinch, who is the Vice Chair, Monika Liedl, and Colin Madrid. One of the criterion to establish the committee was for public representation and for there to be a select board representative. To this end, Ethan Shaffer volunteered as the fifth member.

A general description of the mission of the committee is to honor, aid and assist veterans, to promote patriotism, and to plan for and oversee the improvements for the downtown Veterans Memorial.

The first task is to improve upon the Veterans Memorial. “It was really a two-part initiative in terms of the effort. One was to update the names, first and foremost.”


As it has been almost thirty years since the names have been updated, the goal is to catch up to the decades not covered. “Those years cover conflicts from Bosnia and Haiti and Kuwait, Serbia and Yemen to the war in Afghanistan 2001, the war in Iraq ’03, collectively known as the war on terrorism, to current times.”

The committee also decided that in addition to updating the names, that the second part of the initiative would recommend improvements to the physical site itself. “So we were tasked with working with the town engineer, Wright-Pearce and to present our recommendations to the Parks Commission for their review and consideration.”

The committee agreed upon an application process and eligibility process and created a form called the Application for Engraving, which was approved by the select board on November 7, 2022.

“We did not try and resurrect what the eligibility requirements were for all the names that were on there. First of all, nobody was around to tell us what it was. There was no record in the small file that existed at the town office. So rather than find out how all those other names came on there, we decided to establish a set of requirements in order to be considered for eligibility.”

To summarize, persons eligible must be veterans, past tense. So, he or she must not be currently on active duty or serving in any reserve capacity. Eligible veterans would also have to have served in one or more branches of the military which includes not only the standing regular forces such Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, but also our National Guard, Army Reserves, Marine Corps Reserves and Merchant Marines with appropriate documentation showing support in a military conflict.

The third criterion is an honorable discharge and the fourth is a general discharge under honorable conditions. “Anything beyond that disqualified you from being considered for being on the monument.”


The next two had to do with Rangeley residency. “So, we agreed that the individual needed to have been or is currently a Rangeley resident, and secondly, a graduate of Rangeley High School, or formerly enrolled in the Rangeley Lakes Regional School system, Rangeley High School, for three or more years.”

The current effort of the committee is community outreach. It has been deemed important to let as much of the public know of both the establishment of the committee but also to help in their effort to collect as many names and valuable information as possible. Hopefully veterans, or family and friends of veterans, will reach out and continue to spread the word.

Applications are available at the Town Office or you can contact the Town Clerk, Marti Belt, who is also the secretary of the committee.  Applications may also be requested to be sent via regular mail or email. [email protected]

The second phase of the initiative is to create a long term plan for the site to accommodate future expansion. There is limited space available for new names. “Right now there is limited availability on the front of the memorial. It consists of three wings and the right hand wing as you face the memorial is almost completely filled at this point. There is a small section on the bottom quarter of the right hand wing that allows for additional names, and conflicts and eras and wars and that clearly will not be enough to, we suspect, even accommodate the names that we tentatively have collected right now. And will surely not accommodate anything in the future. So the idea was, well let’s prepare for an inevitable future expansion requirement, and see if we can’t create a master plan that the town will sign off on and support in the event that it’s needed. That would include not only an additional monument or monuments, and redoing access and egress such as pathways and landscaping.”

“There is a complete empty palette on the back of the monument for sure, that has no engraving on it whatsoever but the idea of putting the names on the back is just not palatable to those of us really that have worn the uniform. I think that all those names deserve to be front and center as opposed to the backside. So philosophically it ran contrary to what we had hoped to achieve.”

Whalen mentioned that the flagpoles at the site might have to be moved to accommodate ADA wheelchair access and added, “And of course we have the Giving Tree back there which is a very important part of Rangeley. And you know the thought of disturbing that sent everyone over the edge quite frankly” he chuckled. “So we refocused on the long term plan being out front. Everything from the monument out to Main St. and within the existing site, not expanding it in any way, but redoing it and making it more aesthetically pleasing with new landscaping, perhaps some benches, and obviously to accommodate additional memorial or multiple memorials, much smaller in scale obviously, as the need arises.”

‘It’s not only updating the names from ’93 on but it’s also updating any names on prior conflicts. I mean the names on that conflict go from the Revolutionary War to 1993. So there’s no reason not to let everyone know that ‘Do you have documentation of a relative who fought in the Revolutionary War and was from Rangeley, then let us know that!’ Or World War II, or Vietnam, whatever the case may be. We could uncover names that somehow just fell through the cracks. That’s as exciting as updating those from this point forward.”

I asked him to comment on why is this so important. “Oh, that’s an emotional question.” He paused. “Because they’ve earned it, the short answer.” He continued, “They deserve to be recognized by their fellow citizens as having raised their right hand and made a commitment to defend our constitution against all enemies, domestic and foreign and in some cases I suspect lay down their lives. There are a few names on that wall who were killed in action during the conflicts and everyone who has worn the uniform deserves to receive honorable recognition. So this is a mission that is important. Important for the veteran. Important for their families. Important for the community. To let everyone know that we give a big shout out and a thank you for serving your country.”

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