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Group raising money to erect memorial for gold star families

Apr. 22, 2017
Cam Tranchemontagne  | WMUR9

Hope to unveil memorial in September

BOSCAWEN, N.H. —A special groundbreaking at the State Veterans Cemetery will be held Sunday morning for a new monument paying tribute to the sacrifices made by Gold Star families.

Marine Cpl. Michael Ouellette, of Manchester, was killed in action in Afghanistan in March 2009. He was mortally wounded by insurgents in an attack involving an improvised explosive device and heavy small-arms fire. He died to ensure others would survive.

"My brother tied his own tourniquet, called in his own nine-line, air support, kept control of his men," Michael's sister, Stephanie, said. "And he would not be evacuated until they were all safely out of there."

Stephanie said the pain of losing her brother to war eight years ago remains fresh but she's channeling her grief into an effort to recognize families like hers.

"If you look at all the people New Hampshire has lost in service to this country in all wars and conflicts it's hundreds, if not thousands, and every one of those people had a family. Every one of those people had a story," she said.

Ouellette is leading an effort to build a memorial for gold star families at the State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. She's working with a veterans group out of Kentucky that has helped erect 17 similar monuments across the country.

"It's a place to gather, and it's not a sad thing," she said. "This is a piece of living history."

A ceremonial groundbreaking will take place Sunday morning. Oullette said anyone - family, friend, or loved one - who's lost a member of the military is welcome.

"If people come to the groundbreaking, even if they're not a blood relative of a fallen hero, if they know somebody who gave their life in service to their country, whether overseas or at home, we're asking them to bring a picture of their loved one," she said. "We're not going to keep it. We're going to have them place it at the site of where the monument is going to be to show people that it's more than a stone. It's more than a stone in the ground. It's the stories of all these men and women."

The ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. The hope is to finish the monument by Gold Star Mothers' Day in September but the group is still fundraising.