Steps to build ‘Stairway to Freedom’ ongoing for Sgt. Richard Parker Memorial
STRONG - In the five years since her son was killed while serving with the A Battery 152nd Field Artillery in Iraq, Dixie Flagg and her family have completed a 160-step wooden stairway up the side of a hill, a flag memorial with flower plantings, installed a swing set and is looking to add more to the children's playground towards completion of the Richard Parker Memorial.
Sgt. Parker, 26, of Phillips, died on June 14, 2007, from wounds received the day before in Scania, Iraq. He was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations.
Among the many helping Flagg and her family with their vision to honor Parker over the years is the Sons of AMVETS Post 33 in Jay. Danny Taylor, 3rd vice president, recently presented a check to Flagg for donation towards completion of the memorial park and the unique “Stairway to Freedom” staircase.
The Richard Parker Memorial park is located on Burbank Hill, adjacent to the Lance Corporal Scott Paul Town Park in Strong, and is open around the clock to anyone who would like to enjoy the peaceful setting.
"We started in 2008 with a few ideas in our heads for a memorial," Flagg said today. From there, brush was cleared and a series of fund-raising activities have been held. The most recent was a walk-a-thon and yard sale that raised $15,000. The completed "Stairway to Freedom" climbs 160 steps, has three platform decks for those who need a rest along the way, and connects the Richard Parker Memorial park with the Lance Corporal Scott Paul Town Park at the top. The town park, featuring a playground, barbecue grills and picnic tables, was created in memory of Strong native Scott Paul who was killed during the Gulf War.
Along with the memorial park, Flagg has also set up a scholarship fund in her son's honor to be given out each year to a graduating Mt. Abram High School senior.
Flagg said they will be continuing the fundraising effort to help finish paying for the staircase's lumber and to build a playhouse and possibly install more children's play structures at the memorial.
For more information about the Richard Parker Memorial, the “Stairway to Freedom” project or the Richard Parker Scholarship Fund, contact Flagg at 207-639-5518.
For more information about the AMVETS, Sons of AMVETS or other veteran organizations, you can contact www.amvetsofmaine.com or call the Jay Post 33 at 207-897-4112.