By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 23, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 23, 2018) -- Runners toeing the starting line at the inaugural Climb to Glory Memorial to Monument Run at Fort Drum on Sept. 29 will see, in the distance, the iconic Military Mountaineer Monument of the 10th Mountain Division (LI). For those who take an early shuttle onto post, there will be ample time to get a closer look at this statue and other sites at Memorial Park.
The shuttle service from Thompson Park in Watertown to Fort Drum starts at 5:30 a.m., with the last one scheduled to depart at 8 a.m. Race time is set for 9 a.m.
Military Mountaineers Monument
The most prominent feature walking into Memorial Park is the 10th Mountain Division Military (LI) Mountaineers Monument. The statue was installed and dedicated in 1991 and depicts a World War II-era Mountaineer Soldier helping a modern-day 10th Mountain Division Soldier on a climb.
It was designed to serve as a permanent link between the veterans who served in the Army's first mountaineer unit and fought in Italy, and those who comprise the modern light infantry division when the 10th Mountain Division was reactivated in 1985.
The monument was originally set in a different location of the park, closer to Mount Belvedere Boulevard, but was moved in 2007 to its current location when Memorial Park was renovated. The 1,800-pound sculpture was toppled by high winds in 2013 but sustained only minor damage. It was repaired and returned to its base a week later.
Astute observers will notice a peace symbol on the rifle of the modern Soldier, a detail that was approved by the division commander at the time.
Past the Military Mountaineer Statue, there are 21 plaques that list the deployments that 10th Mountain Division (LI) units have supported, to include disaster relief, peacekeeping and combat operations. The plaques also bear the names of Soldiers who died while deployed.
Fallen Warrior Memorial
In October 2013, two new pieces were unveiled at the park. The Fallen Warrior Memorial depicts Soldiers at a memorial service. A Soldier is bent on one knee in grief with another Soldier's hand on his shoulder, offering comfort.
Nearby, another bronze-cast monument depicts two Soldiers on patrol as one reaches back with an outstretched hand to greet a smiling Afghan child running toward him. On one of the child's sandals is the word "peace" written in Farsi.
The two-part memorial serves as a multifaceted display that tells a story of honor, camaraderie and humanity - highlighting the themes of honoring the fallen and hope for the future.
The Fallen Warrior Memorial was a gift of the Fort Drum Garrison work force through funds awarded after being selected as a 2011 Army Community of Excellence. Susan Grant Raymond was the sculptress of the Fallen Warrior Memorial and the Military Mountaineer Statue, as well as the 10th Mountain Division Monument at Thompson Park.
Nestled within the forestry on both sides of the main park area are three unit memorials and a recent addition that honors Gold Star Families.
Facing the Fallen Warrior Monument, the Spartan Statue is located on the trail to the right. This statue was originally built to honor the 109 Spartan Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the intent of adding additional names from later rotations. The name of Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, Medal of Honor recipient, is prominently displayed below the Spartan statue. The statue was officially unveiled in May 2012.
Patriot Brigade Memorial
Along the same trail is the Patriot Brigade Memorial that honors fallen Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 78th Division (Training Support). The unit was previously designated at the 174th Infantry Brigade which, in 1997, was withdrawn from the Reserve and activated into the Regular Army at Fort Drum. It was inactivated two years later. The brigade headquarters was reactivated in 2006 at Fort Drum as one of 16 reserve brigades to be activated for the purpose of training.
2-22 Infantry Memorial
To the left of Heroes Park, a memorial honors Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, who died while supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was donated by Vietnam veterans from 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 22nd Infantry Regiment (The Vietnam Triple Deuce).
Plaques on four marble pillars list the operations and 2-22 Soldiers killed from 2003 to 2013. On top of these pillars, visitors have placed angel figurines, coins and branch insignia.
The newest addition - Survivor Park - was completed in November 2017. The black granite monochrome mural depicts a 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier carrying a comrade on his shoulders. The design was a collaboration between Brian O'Keefe, engineer technician, and Jeff Fox, illustrator, both with Fort Drum Public Works.
"Our guidance was to provide a quiet place for reflection, away from the other monuments, and have it blend in with the natural setting," O'Keefe said.
The monument stands seven feet tall and nine feet across, and bears a quote by American poet Joseph Rodman Drake. There are two stone benches on both sides for visitors to sit. Two marker stones at the entranceway have flat marble fronts with silhouettes of six Soldiers in a line. One figure is silhouetted in white to represent a missing Soldier. The two on both ends are kneeling - one in a position of mourning and the other in a fighting position. The message this conveys is that while Soldiers take the time to grieve and honor their losses, they do not lose sight of the mission and they continue to support one another.
O'Keefe said the request for a new memorial site came from Survivor Outreach Services to honor the Gold Star Families who visit Memorial Park. The name Survivor Park was the working title they used during the planning process and seemed appropriate enough to keep.
"The Gold Star Family Members are surviving without their loved ones," he said. "Fort Drum wanted to highlight the fact that they are still part of the Armed Forces community, and that we are here to provide support - now and in the future."
Registration for the Memorial to Monument Run ends Sept. 7. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com or visit https://drum.armymwr.com/calendar/event/memorial-monument-run/2242607/26744 for more information.