Veterans War Memorial Park gets financial boost

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   Veterans from World War II and the Vietnam Conflict were among those attending a news conference Saturday to kick off the drive to raise $125,000 to build the Elizabethton/Carter County Veterans War Memorial Park.
   Names of all Carter Countians who died in combat in all wars will be inscribed on granite stones in the memorial to be built at the corner of Pine Street and Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton.
   The Veterans War Memorial Committee held the news conference at the Elizabethton Public Library.
   Among those attending were Elizabethton Mayor Sam LaPorte, state Sen. Rusty Crowe and state Rep. Ralph Cole, both of whom are members of the committee, and Randy Lingerfelt, Carter County Veterans Services Officer.
   Representatives of Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Marine Corps Reserves, Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, former Prisoners of War , Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Administration also attended.
   Sonny Mottern of POW and Jerry Campbell of VVA presented donations from their respective organizations to Deacon Bowers, committee chairman, during the news conference.
   Sen. Crowe made a personal donation and invited others in the community to do likewise to "preserve the memory of those who did not return home."
   He also announced that Bolton Block Co., Johnson City, had agreed to donate cinder blocks and bricks for the project and that inmates at the Northeast Correctional Center would provide labor "to reduce the cost as much as possible."
   David Ornduff, secretary-treasurer of the Veterans War Memorial Committee, announced that more than $7,000 already has been raised, including $5,000 received from the state of Tennessee.
   Sen. Crowe applauded the work of state Rep. Ralph Cole and the financial support of Gov. Don Sundquist during a time the state budget is tight. Rep. Cole said that he and Sen. Crowe would do all they could to support the project.
   The white Soldier Monument, located at Carter County Courthouse square, was built in 1912 and dedicated in 1913 to honor thousands of Carter Countians who served in all wars.
   "The Monument is a shining light for the community. The Veterans War Memorial will be the second shining light for the city. You can travel around the world and never find a place as beautiful," Rep. Cole said.
   Bowers said the Veterans War Memorial Committee hopes to raise necessary funds in the coming weeks to allow construction to begin soon. "We hope to dedicate the completed memorial on Veterans Day," Bowers said.
   A brochure describing the memorial, listing names of Carter Countians to be inscribed on granite stones, was prepared by the committee for use in the fund drive.
   "The names in the brochure came from military records in Washington, D.C. If anyone knows of other Carter Countians, born or lived here, who died in combat or missing in action, they should contact a member of the Veterans War Memorial Committee," Bowers said.
   "We don't want to leave any Carter Countian off the memorial if they died in combat in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom," Bowers said.
   At the news conference, the Rev. Bruce Hendrick, pastor at Oak Street Baptist Church, gave the invocation; the Marine Corps Honor Guard presented the colors; and Loretta Bowers sang "America the Beautiful."
   In addition to Sen. Crowe, Rep. Cole, Ornduff and Bowers, other members of the Veterans War Memorial Committee are Jeanette Hitchcock, Roy Merryman, David Ornduff, Bob Robinson, Sarah Sellers and Sam Shipley.