The friends and family of the 19-year-old Marine from Sag Harbor who was killed by a suicide bomber in the Anbar Province of Iraq on April 22 have created a memorial fund and plan to erect a monument in his honor.
The village has permitted the monument honoring lifelong village resident Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter to be placed along Bay Street near the windmill overlooking the harbor. The fund organizers hope to raise money quickly and have the monument in place by Memorial Day.
Lance Cpl. Haerter was the 30th Long Islander to die in the Iraq War and the first Sag Harbor resident to be killed in a military conflict since World War II.
According to Retired Air Force Colonel and Sag Harbor native Thomas Toole, the final monument design will be complete by this Monday, but most of the remaining questions are related to the inscription rather than the actual structure. Mr. Toole, a close friend of the Haerter family, returned to Sag Harbor from his home in Florida after the young Marine’s death, and he soon began orchestrating the monument effort and has been working closely with the village on the project.
Mayor Gregory Ferraris, Superintendent of Public Works Jim Early, Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder and Mr. Toole, as well as some landscapers and designers of the monument, visited the site on Tuesday to discuss the memorial. Mr. Toole said it will be an inscribed and polished red granite obelisk atop a 20-inch-tall unpolished base and an 8-inch-tall slab, altogether reaching slightly more than 6 feet.
Mr. Toole said the color of the granite is significant because red is representative of the Marine Corps, not to mention Lance Cpl. Haerter’s alma mater, Pierson High School. “That’s what I thought was appropriate, and the father jumped at the idea,” he said, explaining that Lance Cpl. Haerter’s parents, Chris Haerter and JoAnn Lyles, have been so consumed with grief that he’s had to move the project along himself.
Ms. Schroeder said that despite some concerns raised by people whom she refused to name, the monument is “not going to be gaudy, obtrusive—anything.” She said the obelisk will be placed among some large juniper bushes between the North Haven Bridge and the windmill, and some extra foliage will be planted to ensure a tasteful appearance.
“You’re going to have to go and look for it to find it,” Ms. Schroeder said, noting that the tip of the obelisk would likely protrude only about 18 inches from the bushes. “We’re not talking about something you can’t wrap your arms around.”
Ms. Schroeder said local landscaper Jeff Peters of JCP Landscapers is donating the plants, and Declan Blackmore of Summerhill Landscapes is contributing the stone base of the monument.
As for getting the monument up for Memorial Day, “That hope is almost 100-percent dashed,” Mr. Toole said, explaining that money is less of a problem than the fact that there is only one remaining fabricator who might be able to expedite the $20,000 project. “At the very least, we will dedicate the site on Memorial Day,” he said, noting that the slab would be in place by then, and he could present the design drawings, “just like you do at a groundbreaking ceremony.”
The necessary funds to fabricate the monument have not yet been collected, Mr. Toole said, but he added, “The money will meet the need, at least.” Anything extra will be put into a scholarship fund in Lance Cpl. Haerter’s name.
Mr. Peters was at the site of the monument on Wednesday morning, working with two village employees and some earth-moving equipment removing some bushes and debris and filling holes to make way for the upcoming installation. As explained by Ms. Schroeder, a 20-inch square was designated in the grass with white flags and tape near the two existing juniper bushes and patches of soil.
“We’re going to resod the area,” Mr. Peters said, explaining that the monument would be placed between the junipers, and six more of the bushes would be added in a horseshoe shape, protecting the obelisk from the road and meeting Architectural Review Board standards. “We’re not doing anything extravagant, plant-wise, because of the salt air,” he said, noting that two benches have been donated and they will be installed with the monument.
A lifelong Sag Harbor resident, Mr. Peters said donating the plants and time was the least he could do for the Marine who died for his country. “It’s a community effort,” the landscaper said, noting that he’s close to Lance Cpl. Haerter’s father. “I’ve known Chris all my life—I knew the young man,” Mr. Peters said.
Anyone wishing to donate can write a check to the Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter Memorial Fund. Donations can be dropped off at the Sag Harbor branch of the Suffolk County National Bank on Main Street or the Sag Harbor Village Police Department Headquarters at 70 Division Street.