A brief moment’s reflection for victims of terrorism in Boston coincided Monday with a long-awaited groundbreaking in Hartford for a monument honoring Connecticut war veterans, a roster covering 1.3 million living and dead.
Current events intruded on history as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy led a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m., precisely one week after the first of two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing three, wounding scores and unsettling millions.
“Obviously our hearts and thoughts go to the families that have been victimized in the terrible bombing and its aftermath in Boston, and we will stand with them,” Malloy said.
Then veterans stepped forward to join Malloy in turning over shovelfuls of dirt.
The groundbreaking was a milestone for a project that had seemed doomed by controversy over cost, design and its original location: a $1.5 million amphitheater tucked away in a veterans’ cemetery in Rocky Hill.
“I don’t want to be accused of overstating the obvious. But today’s event has been a long time in coming,” said Gen. Thaddeus Martin, the adjutant of the Connecticut National Guard.
At a cost of $700,000, a simpler Connecticut State Veterans Memorial now will rise on a prominent site in Hartford: Minuteman Park, just outside the Legislative Office Building and State Armory.
Generations have left for war from the Armory, including men and women dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan with National Guard units. And the spot is where buses discharge schoolchildren for tours of the State Capitol.
“It’s in a great place,” said Linda Schwartz, the commissioner of veterans affairs and president of the memorial committee. “We wanted it to be simple and elegant and serviceable for our weather.”
Construction is expected to be completed in November, before Veterans Day.
Veterans still need to raise about $100,000. The state has provided $500,000 in bonding and $300,000 was raised privately, but about $200,000 was spent on the abandoned project in Rocky Hill.
The cost of the Rocky Hill project had risen to $1.5 million when it was abandoned, casting doubt on the future of the memorial.
“From 2008 to 2012, we tried to salvage that design,” Schwartz said. “But let’s face it, an amphitheater is not where it’s at any more. People want things that are up close and personal.”
Veterans also were unhappy at the location inside the Col. Raymond F. Gates Memorial Cemetery, across the street from the Veterans Home and Hospital.
“They wanted it to be in a place of honor,” she said.
To see the design or make a contribution, go to cthonorsvets.org.
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