Polk County NC Veterans Park Memorials

 
Arlington National Cemetery

 

Polk County Veterans Park and War Memorials

The concept of a Veterans Park began in earnest in November 2002. After many years of delays due to various roadblocks, two anonymous buyers purchased a vacant lot and donated the land to the town of Columbus to be used for a Veterans Plaza. The ideal location, adjacent to the House of Flags Museum, is the current site of the Veterans Park. Local Veterans organizations quickly gave their approvals, and the Veterans Park in Columbus, North Carolina fund raising activities were started with the sale of memorial bricks to be included in the construction of a large circular water fountain to honor veterans from Polk County and surrounding areas.

In 2005, Bronze plaques were placed on two existing boulders in the park, one to honor veterans of the Revolutionary War and another to honor veterans of the Civil War.

In 2016, a local Boy Scout, for his Eagle Scout project, was able to design, raise funds, and construct a Pavilion in the park for use by the community. The VFW Post 9116 members added additional supports to the structure to improve stability and will continue to make upgrades as needed.

In mid 2017, another local Boy Scout, also working on his Eagle Scout project, wanted to erect a Vietnam Memorial to honor his grandfather’s service. A group consisting of the town administrator and representatives of the VFW Post 9116 and Auxiliary members designated a portion of Veterans Park as the War Memorial Section. The site is located near the circular water fountain and the flag poles displaying the National and State Flags as well as the POW/MIA flag and those representing each branch of Military service.

In October 2017, the Vietnam Memorial was installed. Four additional granite pedestals were installed in preparation for mounting plaques to honor Veterans from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Gulf Wars.

The area of Veterans Park designated for the memorials was a bit unkempt but, with volunteer efforts, about two tons of old mulch were removed.  The area was leveled and filled with white gravel. Edging was placed around the outer edges to designate the boundaries of the War Memorial Section. The gravel and edging were supplied by the American Legion Post 250 in Tryon, North Carolina.

Members of the VFW Post 9116, American Legion Post 250 and the Polk County Memorial Honor Guard provided volunteer labor for the project. The Town of Columbus assisted with correcting drainage issues.

We also asked several local businesses for donations and we were blessed by the response.

The VFW Post 9116 and Auxiliary members were responsible for the War Memorial Section from its inception but raising funds for the completion of the projects proved to be very slow and at times very difficult.

In 2018, as the newly elected Quartermaster of the Polk County Memorial Post 9116 Veterans of Foreign Wars, I proposed a fundraising activity to help finance the completion of the War Memorial Section of Veterans Park.

The idea was to ask businesses in Polk County to allow the VFW Post 9116 to place a donation jar in their establishments to collect funds that would be used to help with the creation and installation of the remaining plaques. Collection jars were established in businesses in Columbus, Saluda and Tryon, North Carolina.

Members of our VFW Post donated jars, paper and other supplies and decided that funds collected would be used solely for the purchase of the War Memorial monuments.

The very first donation we received was from a local Physical Therapy business in Saluda, NC. The donation of a $200 check has been the largest single donation received from our donation jar campaign.

The smallest donation received was from a young man about age 5. He listened as I explained to his father the purpose of the donations. The gentleman gave me $20. Then the young man asked if he could donate and then gave me 72 cents, all he had in his pocket.

In September, 2018 we applied for a Community Service Grant from the National Organization of Veterans of Foreign Wars and were immediately approved for a $1,000 grant. We were also encouraged to apply again in 2019 after our submission of the required Final Grant Report. We did and were again blessed with another $1,000 grant.

In the 14 months of fundraising, we have collected almost $2,700 from local businesses and our local collection jars. The average monthly yield is around $100. Other funds have been donated by area VFW Posts and Auxiliary Units. Some donation checks have arrived by mail and some have just been handed to me as I travel around Polk County.

Clayton’s Monuments in Landrum, South Carolina has been instrumental in the design and etching of the memorial plaques. As a service to our local veterans, they have kept our cost as low as possible. They spend many hours designing a plaque from our thoughts, sketches and/or pictures before submitting a final design for our approval. The final design is then etched onto a black granite slab and mounted onto the designated monument pedestal in Veterans Park.

Monuments currently displayed in the War Memorial Section are the Vietnam War Memorial (dedicated on November 4, 2018), the World War I Memorial (dedicated on May 27, 2019), the World War II Memorial (dedicated on July 4, 2019) and the Korean War Memorial (dedicated on May 25, 2020). We are discussing plans for the Gulf Wars plaque.

In September 2019, volunteers from the VFW Post 9116, American Legion Post 250, the Polk County Honor Guard, along with others, worked several days to prepare the grounds for the construction and installation of the “Charters of Freedom”.

On September 17, 2019, a dedication ceremony for the 22nd installation of the Charters of Freedom, a permanent replica our country’s founding documents, was held at Veterans Park. The Honor Guard presented the Colors during the Dedication Ceremony.

On November 7, 2019, we moved an unfinished 6’ by 4’ stone into the War Memorial Section. The large stone was a donation from a Life Member of the VFW Post 9116. We are currently discussing plans to prepare and mount the stone, which will be used it to honor all who served in the "Global War Against Terrorism". The War monument is large enough that we can display small plaques for each of the numerous wars/conflicts involving the United States after the September 11, 2001 attack on American soil.

We will keep our VFW comrades informed of our future progress. We will continue to accept donations to ensure the completion of this project.

Donations to our Veterans Park War Memorial Project can be made to:

David Fleming, Quartermaster
Polk County VFW Post 9116

P.O. Box 654
Columbus, NC 28722

Please indicate on your check that it is for the War Memorial Project.


 
The fountain is undergoing repairs.

 Flags for the six branches of the military.
Flag #6 - The Merchant Marines
are called up in war time only.
 
One of several very old placks found in the park.
 
 

Someone left these two for all to see.

 

 

Below are the etched placks for the major wars.
 
 
 
 


SSgt. Reckless

This small plack is found below the Korean War
Plack. 
SSgt. Reckless was a pack horse that
re-supplied the "Recoilless Rifle Platoon" on the
front lines.  Her job was to carry weapons and
ammunition as well as other supplies to the front
lines. Often she made the round trip unattended.

She was promoted to Corporal in '53, Sergeant in
'54 and was promoted to SSgt in '59. She received

2 Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal and many
other military honors. She now rest at the
Camp Pendleton Stables in South Carolina.

 
This Rock will be stood up and various smaller placks
will be ad-fixied to it to commenrate the various
conflicts since 9/11 that the U.S. Veterans have been
involved in. This will be started after the last etched
plack for Gulf Wars has been finished
~ hopefully in 2020. 

The VFW Post 9116 will then start on this one.

 


World War 1 

World War II

Korean War with small plack
for SSgt Reckless below. 

The Vietnam War 
 
The Gulf War
This empty stone monument will
have a plack for the Gulf War soon.
The engraved insert funds are being
raised today.
 

 

 
These are the 5 memorials as the Veterans Park stands today.
The WW1 is on the right and the Gulf War will be on the left side.

 

These War Memorials are sponsered by the
VFW Post 9116
33 Gibson Street
P.O. Box 654
Columbus NC 28722