Memorial Inches Closer to Completion

BY KYLE JAHNER – kjahner@newsobserver.com
http://www.garnercleveland.com

U.S. Rep. David Price visited the Garner Veterans Memorial as it creeps closer to completion, both in funding and construction.

The congressman liked what he saw.

“It’s a very impressive undertaking,” Price said during his visit Thursday. “Really, really striking. They’ve gone way beyond I think what most memorials have been. It’s really going to make for an effective memorial.”

Price toured the site at Lake Benson Park with Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams and other civic leaders. Representatives from the Garner Veterans Memorial Committee were also on hand, including vice president Faye Gardner.

Price represents a chunk of Garner again after the most recent round of redistricting. He had represented part of the town in the past as well, but his territory for the previous decade did not include Garner.

The former Duke University political science and history professor said he appreciated the significance of marking the nation’s wars. As he walked, Price read many of the inscriptions about the wars of each decade.

He also spent time at the structures that list Garner-area residents who died in each decade of conflict, noting the length of the Civil War list of casualties.

Price also noted the local funding efforts that make the memorial unique.

“It was a good team effort on the part of the community. There’s going to be a real sense of ownership and pride,” Price said.

The memorial needs an additional $15,000 to reach its $500,000 cost estimate, according to Gardner. The committee completed the push to raise $30,000 to secure matching funds from an anonymous donor last week.

Construction, meanwhile, continues to make progress, with an estimated completion date of mid-May.

Light gray slabs commemorating North Carolina’s contributions to various U.S. conflicts, decade by decade, have been attached to rich clay-colored supporting and decorative slabs, and benches have been installed. Preparations are being made to pour the concrete sidewalks.

The Veterans Memorial Committee scheduled a dedication for May 4. Retired brigadier general and current N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata will be the keynote speaker.

Tata served as superintendant of the Wake County Public School System from 2010-2012 and as chief operating officer of the District of Columbia Public Schools for a year before that. He retired from a 28-year military career in 2009.

The Garner Veterans Memorial received $25,000 from the town and $50,000 from the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Most of the money has been raised through donations from individuals, businesses, civic clubs and veterans groups.

About $103,000 has been raised from the sale of 771 dedicated bricks to be installed as part of the memorial. Another $24,000 came from dedications for 16 of the 20 benches for sale at $1,500 each.

Bench sales will continue until the allotment is filled. Bricks will continue to be sold long after the project has been completed, Gardner said.

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