Baltimore County dedicates monument for veterans killed in Middle East conflicts

I’s often the simple, routine occurrences, like taking out the trash, that trigger memories of Ursula Palmer’s husband, Collin J. Bowen, a National Guardsman who died after he was injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan.

Since his death in 2008, Palmer has remarried and relocated to Northern Virginia. “You move forward, you don’t move on,” she said.

Though she can never escape the loss, she finds comfort in memories of her late husband, and in knowing that others have not forgotten him. On Saturday, she and families of 26 other fallen servicemen and -women who had ties to Baltimore County gathered to dedicate a war memorial outside the Historic Courthouse in Towson.

“It’s been almost nine years. It’s nice to see people do not forget,” Palmer said.

The memorial includes the names of the servicemen and -women from Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 6,400-pound granite monument cost about $100,000, paid for by donations and about $75,000 in state funding. Its jagged edge and beige color represent the desert terrain of the countries where the wars were fought. It is situated near the existing Vietnam Memorial.

Attorney J. Michael Lawlor, a Vietnam veteran who serves as chair of the Baltimore County Monument Commission, suggested the idea of the new memorial to County Councilman David Marks about five years ago.

Lawlor and his wife, Chris, have worked for years to get the monument built. Their nephew, Capt. Michael S. Lawlor, is among the listed names.

Captain Lawlor had served an eight-month tour in Iraq and was preparing to return in 2004 when he was killed. His helicopter crashed during a training exercise near San Diego.

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