“Where the cattle stand together, the lion lies down hungry.”

This African proverb, which I’ve had on my desk for years, seems fitting after last week’s unveiling of a sculpture honoring local African-American Civil War soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. From funding the piece to quarrying the stone, to the remarks at the unveiling, an incredible team effort has given Rutland a powerful and beautiful new piece of art.

In a recent letter, a dear friend, commenting on the Rutland Sculpture Trail, referred to the artwork as a “Steve Costello sculpture.” While I appreciate her thanking me for work on the trail, it takes a team of great people motivated to act to make progress, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the piece is by the incredibly talented Don Ramey, and it now belongs to the community.

Don, as noted at the unveiling, put his heart into the piece, spending countless hours on research, designing, carving, planning and executing the installation, with the help of Kevin Sweet, Glenn Campbell, Mike Carlson, Dave Williams, Charlie Daigneault and Tom Kearns. All of that was made possible through the generosity and community spirit of Tom Huebner, Claudio Fort and Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Luca Mannolini and Vermont Quarries, through unstinting support for, and commitment to, the greater-Rutland region, provided the stone free of charge. Carol Driscoll, with assistance from Garrett Robin, handled all the administrative issues such an undertaking entails, from selecting the artist to developing a budget and paying the bills.

Mark Foley Jr. from MKF Properties brought on a mason and engineer to help facilitate the safe and permanent installation on his beautiful building, the Castleton University Bank Gallery, while Mike Gauthier and Greenscreen Graphics produced the beautiful and moving plaque that describes the artwork.

Speakers Lisa Ryan and the Rev. Thomas Arnold helped place the sculpture in context and offered powerful messages about our history, and our future. Their words, along with Don Ramey and Claudio Fort’s comments, educated listeners and moistened eyes throughout the audience, while lifting the community.

Finally, the City of Rutland, including Mayor Dave Allaire and Zoning Administrator Tara Kelly, blessed the location and continue to support the development of the trail, each piece a gift to the city from the funders, artists and collaborators. Thanks to the Downtown Rutland Partnership, visitors can follow the trail online at downtownrutland.com/sculptures.

A couple of days after the unveiling, someone mentioned the piece and said thanks for making it happen – which reminded me of the proverb on my desk. Many, many Rutlanders stand together to make these projects happen. “Where the cattle stand together, the lion lies down hungry.”

Steve Costello lives in Rutland Town, and is vice president of customer service and ambassador of Rutland at Green Mountain Power.

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