Efforts to refurbish Amesbury’s 18 long-neglected war memorials have gained momentum in recent months, and now a group of residents is looking to start a full-on community fundraiser to give the memorials the care they need.
Francis Justin of 10 Trues Circle and Rosemary Werner, the director of Best Foot Forward, have begun soliciting interest from local veterans and residents, and Werner said there is a meeting planned at the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank Community Room in Amesbury on April 25 at 7 p.m. to discuss the fundraising plan and gauge interest in the community.
“We’re waiting until the end of April to see who is going to be the chairman of it,” Werner said. “If anyone is interested in joining this committee to volunteer, they’re welcome to come to this meeting.”
The idea behind the fundraiser is to duplicate the efforts that led to the construction of the Doughboy statue in front of the Amesbury Middle School. The Doughboy was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1929, to honor the memory of Amesbury’s World War I veterans, and it was funded entirely by private donations.
“We want to put the money into the Newburyport Five bank so people can walk into the bank and make deposits; we don’t want to keep the money at City Hall,” Werner said. “We want to combine our volunteers with the veterans and say it’s the Veterans Restoration Memorial Fund. That way it encompasses each of the 18 memorials that need work.”
Justin, who is now 90, is one of the few Amesbury residents still living who attended the dedication of the Doughboy. Her father was among the many local residents who fought in World War I, and she estimated that 25,000 people attended the statue’s dedication.
But today the Doughboy, like most of the other war memorials in Amesbury, has begun to deteriorate.