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Construction begins on monument to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans

Mike Desmond / WBFO

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Tuesday night for another war memorial coming to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park at the downtown waterfront.
With the ceremonial digging of the first soil out of the way, full construction begins on the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Memorial. It's located between monuments to the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and near a monument to Poles who served in the military of other countries in World War II.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO
Temporary signs for the soldiers whose names will be engraved on a monument to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new memorial remembers the 71 Western New Yorkers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the tens of thousands who served there, some of them on multiple tours of duty. Gold Star Mothers, those who lost sons and daughters in the war, were honored last night, and there were temporary signs with the names of their children. Those signs will be replaced with names engraved on the monument.

At last night's ceremony, Brian Guy said the memorial is on a fast track to completion.

"On September 13 of this year, 13 years and two days from that gorgeous September morning when our world changed forever, we will dedicate a beautiful memorial that honors the men and women who gave their all so that we may be free and safe," said Guy. "Tonight, we break ground for that memorial."

Supporters have raised more than $200,000 more than originally planned. The veterans behind the Vietnam memorial told planners of this new monument to put aside money for future maintenance. Repairs to the Vietnam memorial were unveiled at a re-dedication on Sunday.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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