|Clarksburg VFW Unveils New Sign, Name for Town Field|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
07:15AM / Sunday, October 14, 2018
|A new bronze plaque tells the story of Peter A. Cook, the town's only Vietnam casualty.|
Town meeting last December approved renaming the field.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — There's no missing the new name of the town field.
The large green sign proudly proclaims it as the Pfc. Peter A. Cook Veterans Memorial Field.
Town meeting voted to rename the field last December to memorialize Cook and the town's veterans and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, also named after Cook, raised the funds to install the sign.
"It was extremely important to us we get Pete Cook's name out here in a permanent status," said VFW member Edward Denault on Friday morning. "We didn't care how we got to it or where we put it really, but this turned out to be the perfect spot."
Cook was only 20 years old when he was killed in 1970 during an assault on his company in the Thua Thien province in Vietnam.
"We adopted his name for the post," Denault said. "He was the only combat-related fatality in Clarksburg. He was a hometown kid. He was our age."
He said it was also important to ensure that all veterans were recognized, not just a single individual, so "Veterans Memorial" was included in the full name.
The membership of the Peter A. Cook Post 9144 Veterans of Foreign Wars has been dwindling for years. It sold its post home, a converted church across from Town Hall, a couple years ago and there has been a concern that chapter would disappear completely. Members approached town officials
about possibly renaming the field, which for years has been referred to as "Town Field" despite being named Veterans Field in the 1980s.
"We're all aging and we're the guys who had to do it," said member Joseph Bushika.
The sign was custom created and installed by Neathawk Designs of Williamstown; a bronze plaque with Cook's image and story was also replaced a smaller veterans plaque on a stone near the flagpole.
The effort was entirely financed through donations, including a $1,000 grant from the national VFW. The local VFW also made a "significant" donation, Denault said.
"We appreciate what the VFW does for this town," said Town Administrator Carl McKinney. "I think it's not recognized enough, look what they've done for repairing the school. We're deeply appreciative."
The local VFW chapter has regularly held fundraisers such as its popular pancake breakfasts to support various local events, causes and scholarships. It hosts the annual Easter egg roll, cleaned up the Clark Cemetery
and recently donated $5,000 toward updating the plumbing at Clarksburg School.
"We're supposed to be giving back to the community and this is our way of doing," Bushika said. "That's what we're all about."
Denault said it's why the VFW gets such good support from the community. Bushika agreed, "this town is phenomenal."
McKinney said Cook "exemplifies the sacrifice" of soldiers who don't get to make the determination of where they're sent.
"When they came back [from Vietnam] there wasn't a lot of thanks," he said. "It may be a little be late ... thank God we've changed our way of welcoming veterans."
Future plans for the field include making it more handicapped accessible by adding a sidewalk and extending a paved path that runs by the sign all the way to the pavilion, which will also have to be renovated. McKinney said the town is looking to resurrect the handicapped commission to begin the self-review toward Americans With Disabilities compliance that will also allow Clarksburg to apply for grant funding to address accessibility issues.
In the meantime, the sturdy sign will ensure that the VFW post and its eponym won't be forgotten.
"It was an expensive undertaking but we wanted to make sure it was good and lasted," Denault said.