Flaherty Family Plays 'Santa' for City
John Flaherty explains his family's involvement in the new Veterans' Memorial project.
John Flaherty wanted to help replace and expand the crumbling, almost-70-year-old monument to World War II veterans on the Common. He originally planned to be “last man in” and contribute the difference between the amount that was donated and the cost of the project.
“I didn’t want to take away from community (efforts),” Flaherty told Woburn Patch Saturday. The monument is “everybody’s.”
The estimated cost of the new monument: around $500,000.
“In this economy, it would have taken a long time to raise the money,” Flaherty said. Plus, the Boys and Girls Club is planning a capital campaign, he noted.
Flaherty got an idea.
“I got up one morning,” he said, “and asked my wife, ‘Are you all right with doing it all?’”—The whole project?
Now the Flaherty family will cover the cost of a new monument to Woburn veterans of all wars, starting with the American Revolution, up to today, plus new electrical service on the Common and landscaping around the new structure.
First, the Common’s electrical service will be redone, Flaherty said. It’s “a mess there now,” he said. That work can’t start right away because, he pointed out, the Common is decorated and lit for the holidays.
Then the area near the existing monument will be excavated, Flaherty said. The new monument will stand in the same area as the current one.
Flaherty proposes to put names on both sides of the monument, laser-etched in black granite. The panels could be removed about every 10 years, he said, so new names could be added.
A path will be installed around the new monument.
Local tradespeople will do the work, Flaherty said.
The hard work will come, Flaherty said, in collecting and verifying veterans’ names. He commended Kathy Lucero, a member of both the Woburn Historical Society and the 17-member Friends of Woburn Veterans Committee that formed several months ago to move the memorial project forward, for her research skills and energy. The list of names should be finalized by March, according to Veterans Agent Larry Guiseppe.
Engraving the names on the granite will take about a month, Flaherty said.
So the new memorial and related work on the Common should be done, Flaherty said, by Memorial Day, in late May.
The veterans’ committee, chaired by Guiseppe, had hoped that a new monument could be completed by Veterans Day, 2012. Veterans Day is in November.
About three weeks ago, Flaherty called Guiseppe, the city’s director of veterans’ services told Woburn Patch Friday, and said he wanted to be involved with the project.
A week later, Flaherty said he wanted to do the project, Guiseppe said. Flaherty met with the veterans’ memorial committee last week, Guiseppe said, and the committee approved Flaherty’s plans for the project.
The committee “never would have met our final goals” without Flaherty, Guiseppe said. “We had hoped a couple of significant donors would come forward,” he said, but never expected one donor to cover the whole project.
People can still donate to the memorial fund, Guiseppe said. That money will be used, he said, primarily to perpetually maintain the monument and for other veterans’ sites.
Flaherty has contributed to other community projects, Guiseppe noted, like the home for the Woburn Historical Society in the Burdett Mansion, the handicapped-accessible ramp at the WMHS athletic field and the WMHS tennis courts.
The veterans’ monument on the Common is a community project, according to both Guiseppe and Flaherty. Hardly a family in the city does not have a family member or know someone, Guiseppe said, who is a veteran.