Plans are underway for Sussex County Veteran's Memorial

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:55

    SUSSEX COUNTY-Sometimes he hears the sounds, the helicopters hovering above, and he still wants to run toward the hospital emergency room to help with the wounded. But it's the year 2005, not 1965. It's Sussex County; no longer Viet Nam. And Ernie Kosa is now a retired clergyman; no longer a chaplain in the U.S. Army. Yet, the Sparta resident still hears the sounds of war calling -- some imagined, but all real n and he still wants to help. Today, Kosa, is one of a growing number of local residents willing to lend a hand with plans to build a memorial in Sussex County dedicated to all veterans from all foreign wars. The member of the Sussex County Veterans Committee is urging all others -- veteran and those who aren't -- interested in making this project a reality to attend a public planning session, 6 p.m., Monday, at the Sussex County Administration Center in Newton, where a presentation will be made and a tentative design for the memorial unveiled. "There are so many monuments that are so startling," said Susan Zellman, a member of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and impetus behind the memorial. "I don't know if we can have the same emotional magnitude of those monuments, but we can certainly give veterans of war the dignity they deserve." Zellman said the memorial is expected to cost $45,000. Already there has been a groundswell of support from individuals and public and private organizations for the project. "We've just put a toe in the water," she said. "We're just starting to get things in motion." Zellman said she got the idea for the countywide memorial following dedication of a monument to 9-11 last year. She soon found others had the same thoughts in mind. Glen Vetrano, deputy director of the freeholders, said the preliminary design of the memorial would stand about 23-feet and include three vertical columns surrounding a brass bell. The memorial would be erected in front of the Administration Center on Spring Street in Newton, the county seat. Sussex County has paid tribute to war veterans annually at the fairgrounds. "It was always something I wanted to do," said Zellman, who recalled her husband returning home from Viet Nam. "It was a very difficult time. People were afraid to put on their resumes that they were in Viet Nam." Kosa, whose 20 years of military service transcended conflicts in Korea and Viet Nam, remembers returning home, the target of physical and verbal abuse. "They spit on us," he said. "They called us baby killers." According to Kosa, the veterans he has talked to are all behind the proposed memorial said they all look forward to the day when they'll have a place where veterans can go to remember those left behind and the sacrifices made for the country. "This memorial will be saying ‘thank you," said Kosa. "When veterans see the memorial, citizens will be saying, ‘thank you' to them for serving."