Community gathers for war memorial groundbreaking

By Julie Fann
star staff

City officials, veterans and members of the community gathered on Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the building of a new veteran's war memorial in downtown Elizabethton. The memorial, which will be built on the corner of Elk Avenue and Pine Street, will honor 257 Carter Countians killed in combat from World War I to the present.
   "Finally at last, finally at last, our Carter Countians who paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom are going to be memorialized. They gave their lives so we could be here today. May we never forget what they've done to enhance and preserve our freedom," said Mayor Pro-tem Sam Shipley at the groundbreaking.
   Deacon Bowers, chairman of the Elizabethton/Carter County War Memorial Committee, welcomed veterans and their families. Rev. Bobby Stout of Pleasant Beach Baptist Church gave the invocation, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2166 performed the presentation of flags.
   "Construction of the war memorial would not be possible without the support of Elizabethton city officials, including Mayor Sam LaPorte, Mayor Pro-tem Sam Shipley, City Manager Charles Stahl and Elizabethton City Council who donated the land for this project," Bowers said.
   Shipley said he had hoped Sen. Rusty Crowe and Rep. Ralph Cole could attend the ceremony. "But I understand with what they've been going through in Nashville that their absence is excused," he said.
   In a telephone interview with the Star, Crowe apologized for not being able to attend the groundbreaking.
   "Although I'm not there in person, I'm certainly there in spirit. I'm so proud of the members of the committee that worked hard and of our community of Elizabethton who always come through on a project like this because they care about our veterans and the sacrifice they made," he said.
   The $125,000 project is being financed with public donations and contributions from area firms. Bowers said the veteran's war memorial committee has received $63,000 in cash donations. Individual donations range from $7 to $10,000.
   Members of the Elizabethton/Carter County War Memorial Committee are Deacon Bowers, Jeanette Hitchcock, Roy Merryman, David R. Ornduff, Bob Robinson, Sara Sellers, Sam Shipley, Sen. Rusty Crowe and Rep. Ralph Cole.
   The Northeast Tennessee Department of Corrections' Carter County Work Camp will build the memorial, and Allen Pope, of the City of Elizabethton, will serve as construction superintendent. The names of all 257 Carter County war veterans will be inscribed in gold on five granite stones.
   Bowers said construction of the memorial should be complete in 90 days. A formal dedication is scheduled for Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, 2002.