Honoring veterans one brick at a time

Friday, September 18, 2009
Lamar Leonard, a Navy veteran who lives on Smiley Road, is leading an eight-man Chapel Hill Veterans Committee to raise money to add a Veterans Memorial and brick sidewalk in the Larry W. Lewter Memorial Park.

CHAPEL HILL - An idea to honor veterans was embraced at the town's Fourth of July celebration and patriotic residents appear to be well on their way to having monuments in a renovated park where Veterans Day could be commemorated on Nov. 11.

Dedicated in July 2005, Larry W. Lewter Memorial Park has been the venue for "Boo in the Park" for children and other events, but it's now being renovated to include a Veterans Monument that's "hopefully" finished in time for ceremonies on Nov. 11, town leaders have announced.

The late Larry Lewter is remembered as helping to shape Chapel Hill through his work with the town, Marshall County, civic groups, the church, Boy Scouts and various athletic programs.

Now, the town has started a fundraising campaign to sell bricks with inscriptions to be displayed on a sidewalk leading from Horton Parkway to a Veterans Monument that includes seven rectangular stones. One is for veterans with three on each side to represent the six branches of military service: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and the National Guard.

Order forms for the bricks are to be available at Town Hall, 2202 Unionville Road. For more information please contact (931) 364-7632.

Leading the eight-man Chapel Hill Veterans Committee is Lamar Leonard, 74, of Smiley Road. Born and raised in Chapel Hill, Leonard says he remembers when the parkland along the town's main road was occupied by the Hurt Department Store that burned in the 1960s.

A federal grant led to city acquisition of the property and its conversion into a park that's now between the Horton Highway Utility District Office and First State Bank. Since the land was bought with federal money, it can't be sold without returning the grant.

The idea of adding a Veterans Memorial in Larry W. Lewter Memorial Park was discussed among town leaders during the town's centennial celebration on Independence Day. The suggestion for reviving the park came from a brainstorming session between Town Administrator Mike Hatten and Town Recorder Dawn Lovins.

Town leaders appreciate all the community involvement toward raising funds for the project, according to a city release, noting there have been "countless volunteers who are making this possible."

Leonard says work started on the park three or four weeks ago.

"We had to cut trees down," he said.

Two ideas were developed and presented to an architect/engineer who drew several plans. The committee selected the plan that's being used

An iron fence will be built on top of a brick wall. Flags for each of the six branches of the military will be flown on poles behind a monument for each branch. The American flag is to fly on a flag pole planted behind a center monument honoring veterans.