Preston - Drivers whiz past the junction of Route 165 and Old Shetucket Road noticing only whether they will veer left or right of the grassy triangle at the Y-shaped intersection.
A committee of residents wants them to notice something more.
In 1967, the Preston Historical Society dedicated the town's Revolutionary War monument in what was named Patriot's Park. The gardens they planted are long gone. A pine tree grew to obscure the monument, which became moss-coated and dirty. Its concrete base crumbled on one side.
The newly formed Preston Memorial Committee, a group of veterans' advocates and Preston Historical Society members, wants to bring the memorial back so it gets noticed again. Already, they had the pine tree cut down and will make sure town road crews keep the triangle mowed. They put six American flags around the monument base.
"Since the tree has been removed, I've been out here, and people driving by have stopped and said 'How long has that been there? I didn't know that was there,'" committee member Ron Tanguay of the Preston VFW said.
The monument itself contains elements of Preston's history. The base is a millstone from a local grist mill. It was donated by Helen Bennett in 1966. The tall cylindrical pillar is a field and road roller, used to level farm fields and pack snow down for horses and sleds to pass. It was donated by Theodore Lambert the same year.
The eagle at the top was purchased from Alex Cohn's antique shop in Norwich.
"In Memory of the Patriots of Preston Who Served in the Revolutionary War 1775-1781," reads the still sharp engraving on the pillar.
Linda Christensen, committee member and president of the Preston Historical Society, said her research shows 160 Preston residents fought in the Revolutionary War.
The committee was formed last month when historical society member Fred Herbert called the condition of the war memorial "a disgrace" and approached both the historical society and the VFW to restore it.
Making the monument more visible was just the starting point. Tanguay approached Randy Duplessis, store manager of the Lisbon Home Depot, for advice on how to clean the monument, fix the base and build a brick courtyard circle around it.
Duplessis arrived on Friday morning with a ladder and a measuring tape. He offered more than advice. Duplessis said a store crew called "Team Depot" would clean the monument, fix the base and donate flowers for the proposed garden. His crew started assessing the job Saturday.
Tanguay on Thursday approached the Board of Selectmen with an idea of creating an official town flag with the town seal at the center. Few towns have their own flags, and he wasn't sure the process for getting one approved.
Selectmen expressed support, and First Selectman Robert Congdon said he would find out if the Board of Selectmen or a town meeting would have to approve a town flag.
Selectmen also agreed to look into adding a streetlight over the park on a utility pole at the junction of the two roads.
The plan calls for creating a circular courtyard, with bricks printed with the names of Preston's Revolutionary War soldiers and sponsors' names on bricks along the edge. Flowers would be planted in the center surrounded by an evergreen hedge.
A Connecticut state flag and the new town flag would be placed on two flagpoles near the monument. Tanguay said the committee chose not to add an American flag, because of the protocols involved in caring for it.
Christensen estimated the project to cost about $5,000 and said the committee would seek grants from local foundations, donations and sponsorships.