American Legion member appeals to commissioners.
Since its inception in 2007, the Macon County Veterans Memorial Park has become a community project geared toward honoring the brave men and women who have served the country in all branches of the military.
A joint venture between the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Marine Corps League of Franklin and members of the community, have continued to work to create a destination for locals and visitors to remember all those who have fought for our country.
The Veterans Memorial Park has been funded entirely through local dollars with no state or federal funds involved. The park, located beside the Macon County Community Building, was possible because of the commitment between Macon County, the Town of Highlands, and the Town of Franklin, to create a memorial for veterans.
During February's meeting of the Macon County commissioners, American Legion member Neal Riendeau went before the board informing them that brick sales, the park's main source revenue have drastically declined.
The majority of the park's funding comes from people who want to honor their friends and families who have served in the military by purchasing a brick to be permanently placed along the sidewalk in the park.
“The bricks represent veterans who have served our country,” said Riendeau. “It is a small way to remember, memorialize and most importantly, honor those men and women.”
According to Riendeau, the bricks are featured along the sidewalk in the Memorial Park and are separated by military branch. The Army has the greatest representation at the park, with bricks memorializing veterans from all wars ranging from the Civil War to present day and from all over the country including Alaska and Hawaii.
“The important thing to know is that you can buy a brick for someone who is not from Macon County,” said Riendeau. “The Memorial Park is for all veterans, regardless of where they are from, when they served or what branch they were in. It is our way of saying thanks.” Since 2011, the sale of bricks has dwindled by half, making the park's upkeep a challenge for local veterans organizations. The maintenance and upkeep of the park comes with an annual cost of $6,500.
“We have plenty of room for more bricks and want to continue building a destination for people to stop in and visit,” said Riendeau. “The park is educational with a time line of all American Wars and is visited often by people just passing through.”
The Memorial Park serves as a center point for community veteran functions. Since it was completed, the community has utilized the park to hold special ceremonies for are veterans including the annual Memorial Day celebration that draws several hundred people.
“We have one of the most beautiful and meaningful veteran parks anywhere,” said Commissioner Kevin Corbin. “Our family is just one example of a long line of military service. We have bricks out there, for example, honoring my dad and his three deceased brothers who all served in the U.S. Air Force. Our son Matt just received the AirForce scholarship to finish dental school at UNC Chapel Hill. He will be serving three years in the AF before hopefully coming back here to set up practice. There is another brick for our family to buy. What a great way to honor a service man or woman, either living or deceased. There is so much pride with our local vets here. They are great and we need to support them. They have certainly served us.”
Order forms for the tax deductible bricks can be found at the Memorial Park or for more information about the Veterans Memorial or to purchase a brick visit their website at www.VeteransMemorialMaconCounty.org.