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Tuesday August 31, 2010 Edition
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Foe Eagles Aerie 3801 Dedicates A Memorial Garden & Welcomes The Community To Come

Being dedicated on September 6th at 11:00 am, the Eagles Club Memorial Garden is a place of celebration, remembrance and tranquility open to all citizens and members alike.
photo by Cookie Steponaitis
Being dedicated on September 6th at 11:00 am, the Eagles Club Memorial Garden is a place of celebration, remembrance and tranquility open to all citizens and members alike.

photo by Cookie Steponaitis

photo by Cookie Steponaitis

Tuesday August 31, 2010

By Cookie Steponaitis

    Be sure to mark your calendars, because September 6th at 11:00 AM is the dedication and the opening of the newest gift to the community from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie 3801, in the form of a Memory Garden and the community is invited to attend.

    Under towering flag poles flying not only the stars and stripes of the American Flag, the green hues of the Vermont Flag and flags of the FOE and FOE Auxiliary, a monolith and monument made of Vermont Rock of Ages granite stands as a silent tribute to those living and deceased who serve community, country and nation. Adorning the edifices are ornate carvings of all the branches of service in American history, in order of their creation as well as the Ten Commandments. The symbols represent the United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, United States Air Force, POW/MIA, Volunteer Fire Service, Police Service, Emergency Medical Volunteer Service, and all departed Brothers & Sisters of the FOE. Next to the two granite structures which commemorate both the spirit of volunteerism, patriotism and love of God and County, are benches for people to sit on, supporting both the weight of the visitors, but also offering as reflective points the mottos of the Eagles Auxiliary “For Home, For Country, and For God,” and the Eagles motto of “Liberty, Truth, Justice and Equality.” Completing the stunning site is a picturesque view of Vergennes, Vermont mountains, fields, hedges, flowers and sculpted lawn. The Memorial Garden is a healing garden and was created by FOE Aerie 3801 as a place for community members, visitors, and Eagles Club members alike to come and sit, meditate and have moments of peace and joy.

    While the formal dedication ceremony will occur on September 6th at 11:00 a.m. at the Vergennes Eagles Aerie grounds, the planning process for the Memorial Garden goes back over a year and showcases yet another example of the Eagles Club’s mission to “unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty through justice and equality to make human life more desirable by lessoning its ills and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.”  This mission statement was authored by Tom McGrath and adopted by the International Organization in 2005. Aerie 3801, with 600 Eagles members and 300 Auxiliary members is one of the oldest and most established clubs in the state. Eagles Trustee Chris Dion and Secretary Trustee Tom McGrath reflected on the programs and services that Aerie 3801 offers to the community each year and has since the creation of the Aerie on March 5, 1978. “In addition to providing the July 4th Fireworks along with the American Legion for the past five years, this club sponsors scholarships for local seniors, donations to local hospitals and charitable organizations, an annual Christmas party for children, the annual Fishing Derby, Kid’s Safety Day and other specific civic projects like the clock at the Vergennes Opera House,” shared Trustee Chris Dion. “I truly don’t believe most people are aware of the extent of the Eagles’ Club commitment and involvement to the local area and at a national level.”

    These sentiments were echoed by FOE trustee Tom McGrath who also serves as the International Director for the Diabetes Fundraising Project for the entire Eagles organization in America and Canada. “The Eagles Club is involved in a fundraising effort of huge proportions,” shared Tom McGrath, “and has pledged to raise $ 25 million dollars over the next five years to help build and fund a new Diabetes Research Center Fund at the University of Iowa linking the doctors from all over the world with the latest technology and coordinating efforts to find a cure for Diabetes. I am proud to say that currently every Eagle member in the state of Vermont has pledged and paid at least $5.00 a person toward the goal and we are the only state with that 100% involvement and support. Whether it is at an international level with 1700 aeries (chapters) and 880,000 members or at a local level, the Eagles work together to uphold and nourish the values of home, family and community. This memory garden is for everyone to enjoy and to give them a place to sit in meditation or reflection. It is handicapped accessible and on a level even people with mobility issues can pull up in a car and then simply get out and enjoy.”

    The monument and monolith themselves had a unique journey. They were cut and quarried at the Rock of Ages site in Barre, Vermont and then went to Canada to be cut into the measured slabs. From there they were sent to Grove City, Ohio where the engraving took place and were trucked back to Vermont by Chris Dion and Tom McGrath and put into place with the help of community members and other Eagles members. Weighing nine tons between the two, they are polished and now proudly reside in the Memory Garden, beneath the two large flag poles adorned with Eagles that turn with the wind to face the community that the group so proudly supports.

    In addition to the invited guests of Vermont’s governor, Lt. governor and members of Addison County Firefighters Association and Rescue organizations, both FOE Eagles trustees wanted to make certain that the people of the area know that they are welcome and encouraged to not only attend the ceremony but to use the Memory Garden. What started as a meeting on March 5, 1978 at Palmer’s Restaurant (now Rosie’s) in Middlebury, Vermont has evolved into a strong and dedicated organization of individuals, who day in and day out seek to improve the quality of life in the town, region, state and nation. Should anyone wish to learn more about the FOE Aerie 3801, please do not hesitate to talk to any of their 900 members or call (802)877-2055. Better yet, stop by for a Friday Night Fish Fry and talk to the members in person. Community, commitment and remembrance, all brought together by a fellowship of people devoted to using community service as a way to improve the world. The Valley Voice salutes the Fraternal Order of the Eagles for their tireless efforts and hopes to see many of you on September 6th at 11:00 am at the Memory Garden dedication on New Haven Road in Vergennes.

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