Memorial for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to be Built

August 6, 2012 Updated Aug 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM EDT

August 6, 2012 Updated Aug 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM EDT

(Buffalo,NY) The Waterfront in Buffalo is not just a place to visit the area's Erie Canal Harbor -- but also a place to recognize Western New Yorkers and Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice during war.

Soon a new monument will recognize the most recent local troops to give their lives for our country.

57 men and one woman from Western New York have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Within the upcoming years, a memorial honoring these fallen heroes is planned to stand at the waterfront.

The Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park stands as a tribute to fallen soldiers, including the men and women from Western New York who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our country.

Sgt. First Class Dan Frontera, who served in Iraq from 2004-2005 with the US Army, tell Eyewitness News "we can't forget the people who served and we should be incredibly proud of them people who served and what they've done."

Frontera is one of the community members spear heading the campaign to put up the memorial.

The war veteran says this is personal. Frontera explains "these are my troops. When you serve in the military, there's a bond and it doesn't matter what branch and it doesn't matter when a person served. There's a bond and that's what I feel towards these people."

More money needs to be raised before this memorial can be a reality, but so far the park has brought in about 20-thousand dollars. Seven thousand have been raised so far and another $15-thousand have been pledged.

A lot of the funds have been raised through community members participating in races. Frontera explains "we've been running in the local 5-k races, running with the same rucksack I carried in Iraq, which is 58 pounds, one for each of the lives lost."

The memorial will stand between the Vietnam and Korean War Memorial. It will include three structures: one for Afghanistan and a second for Iraq will recognize the 53 of those killed. Another pedestal will recognize the five not killed directly in combat.

Dan hopes construction will start by the end of this year, and that the memorial will be up by Memorial Day 2013.

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