"All American Veterans"
GILMER COUNTY VETERANS’ MEMORIAL
AKA, Veterans Memorial Bridge & Gardens
In 1997 I requested George Bunch, Sr., owner of the Times Courier newspaper, to consider adding flags to veterans’ obituaries. I asked Mr. Bunch if they could publish the names of Gilmer County veterans in the Times Courier each November. He replied that they would if I furnished the information. Took my laptop to the county courthouse and began searching DD-214s for the veterans’ names, branch of service, war or dates of service, and, if deceased, the date of death. After four days there were less than one hundred found. Approached Mr. Bunch and told him that it was not going very well, but if they could print a coupon in the newspaper three or four times a year it might work. His response was, “Yes”. And they would furnish a place for me to work with a mail basket for those received. This worked very well and over about ten years they were publishing many names each Veterans’ Day. In November 2010 there were 3,600 names listed on eight full pages. Since the economy has turned, the Times-Courier had to discontinue publishing the listings. We then started a new website – gilmercountyveterans.us – so that our local veterans could be honored by a simple check on the internet.
Fund-raiser coupon books were created with 100 merchant’s ads. Ads were sold to the Gilmer County Bank, Coca-Cola Company, and Bob Thomas Oil which paid for printing the 2500 coupon books. Very limited sales of the coupon books and a large number of the unsold coupon books were not turned in or accounted for.
I donated a Murray Tractor and raffle tickets were donated to raise funds to ‘Help Build the Bridge’. The tickets resulted in $3,700 income. They were sold by Wal-Mart courtesy clerks at the entry door and also during an Apple Festival.
Submitted a Transportation Enhancement Application to Georgia D.O.T. for the “Gilmer County Riverfront Pedestrian Walk Path”. Gilmer County Commissioners received a Notice to proceed with the “Veterans’ Bridge Project”.
Other gifts and individual donations totaled $114,000 for matching funds to add to the DOT award of $271,500 for Building the Bridge project. A 147 foot long pedestrian bridge was constructed over the Coosawattee River connecting the recreation areas. “Veterans’ Memorial Bridge” signs with military plaques honoring all veterans were added to both ends of the bridge. This great tribute was dedicated to honor all veterans in a special service on Memorial Day 2010.
Memorial gardens were constructed on the raised walk path areas with engraved granite headers for each war – from the American Revolution to Afghanistan. Individual marble pavers were sold and installed for those honored and remembered in these sections with special notes: Bronze Star, POW, Killed in Action, Normandy Invasion, Pearl Harbor, Battle of the Bulge and other significant remarks.
A separate section is also marked with engraved civic headers for groups such as: family, business, contributors, and honor guards. These pavers are red brick, since we are using Georgia marble to honor our veterans and our history.
Other large marble slabs are engraved with: America the Beautiful, My Country ‘tis of Thee, The Star Spangled Banner, the Gettysburg Address, the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, What Happened to Our Founding Fathers, the Order of The Purple Heart, the Preamble of the Constitution, Code Talkers in WWII, Our Capitol – Washington City, Military Branches of the Service, Remembering our MIA/POWs and Patrick Henry’s speech – “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”. Other documents are also engraved with our nation’s history, our heritage and famous quotations from our founding fathers.
Individual donations of twenty granite benches have been added as an amphitheater in the memorial area for special events, such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans’ Day, Easter Sunrise Service, and Music in the Park.
A special group of bricks have been added under the American Revolution granite header that pays tribute to the SAR members of the Cherokee Chapter and also to some of the Georgia SAR officers along with the Honorable Registrar General Lindsey Brock of the SAR.
May God continue to bless our wonderful country and maintain our freedom and our way of life.
Submitted by Sandy Lyons, member of the Cherokee Chapter of the Georgia Sons of the American Revolution.
"By Sandy Lyons."