A new monument honoring soldiers who fought in Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom will be dedicated Nov. 5. The monument, located on the north side of Towson's Historic Courthouse, was covered with a green tarp Oct. 11, and a sign on the monument announced the dedication date.
A new monument honoring soldiers who fought in Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom will be dedicated Nov. 5. The monument, located on the north side of Towson's Historic Courthouse, was covered with a green tarp Oct. 11, and a sign on the monument announced the dedication date. (Rachael Pacella / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A new monument located on the grounds of the Historic Courthouse in Towson that honors Baltimore County men and women who fought and gave their lives in Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, will be dedicated Nov. 5 at 11 a.m.

In a post to its Facebook page, The Baltimore County Monument Commission, Inc. invited the public to attend the dedication ceremony, which will occur in the 100 block of W. Pennsylvania Avenue. The private commission, led by Towson attorney J. Mike Lawlor and his wife, Chris, secured funding to plan, design and build the monument. A groundbreaking for the monument was held May 29.

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The stone for the monument was placed Oct. 1, Chris Lawlor said. It weighs 6,400 pounds. The oblong granite stone is rough-cut and sand-colored to signify the climate of the countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, in which the wars were fought. The stone includes the names of 27 soldiers, including their rank, branches of service, and the year in which they died.

Extra space was left on the bottom of the stone so other names could be added if necessary. American troops are still in Afghanistan.

A matching bench next to the monument with a black seat is inscribed with a description of the conflicts.

The monument is located on the north side of the courthouse, near the existing Vietnam veterans memorial. It was covered by a green tarp Oct. 11, with a sign announcing the dedication attached to it.

The laying of the stone was an emotional moment for Chris Lawlor and her husband, a Vietnam veteran, she said. The two have worked for years to see the monument built in order to honor the county's Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Storm veterans.

Lawlor has spent hours researching deceased Baltimore County veterans and locating their families to get information for the monument, which was one of the most rewarding parts of the project for her, she said.

She included anyone with Baltimore County ties on the monument. One person whose name will appear on the memorial, Sgt. Wardell Turner, was from Nanticoke, in Wicomico County, for example, though he was a Towson University graduate, and is therefore included. Turner died in Afghanistan on Nov. 24, 2014, due to wounds he received from an improvised explosive device.

"I'm just so happy we were able to do this," she said, speaking of the monument's completion.

The Lawlors' nephew, Capt. Michael S. Lawlor, is included in the list of the deceased.

The 26-year-old was a U.S. Marine who died in 2004 when his helicopter crashed during a training exercise near San Diego. Lawlor had survived an eight-month tour in Iraq, according to a story published in The Baltimore Sun. According to Chris Lawlor, he was preparing to go back when he died.

Also on the list is U.S. Marine Corporal Nick Ziolkowski, a Towson resident who died in 2004 at 22. Ziolkowski joined the Marines in July 2001 after graduating from Boys' Latin School, according to his mother, Tracy Miller.

Lawlor spent much of the summer organizing and preparing for the dedication ceremony, she said.

The hour-long dedication ceremony will include color guard presentations, an Army band, and a key note speech from retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Steven McKinley, according to Lawlor.

The effort to build the new monument began five years ago, when Michael Lawlor suggested the idea to Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson.

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"These are the wars that most Americans alive today remember most distinctly," Marks said Oct. 10.

A bill sponsored by Marks that secured the space on county grounds was passed by the County Council in 2011. A 2016 state bond bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Brochin, could provide $75,000 in state funding for the monument.

The monument cost about $100,000, according to Lawlor, less than what was estimated in the spring. Any leftover money will go toward items such as maintenance.

A rock with a plaque next to the monument also recognizes major donors, including Anderson-Snyder Memorial Fund Corp., Baltimore County Police Memorial Fund, Inc., Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Towson Lodge 469, Brian M. Keelty, McCormick & Company Inc., American Legion Towson Post 22, Thompson Toyota, Vietnam Veterans of America Maryland State Council and Chris and Michael Lawlor.

The dedication will be held in the chambers of the Baltimore County Council should it rain the day of the event.

In addition to the new monument, the commission added a description of the Vietnam war to an existing bench next to the Vietnam monument on the courthouse grounds, Lawlor said.

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