With the Garner Veterans Memorial constructed, more than a year old and paid off, the group that organized its construction is disbanding, or, you could say, transforming.
Now the Garner Veterans Advisory Committee will take the reigns from the Veterans Memorial Committee. It will no longer take a financial role but instead help coordinate preservation and maintenance of the memorial.
The Advisory Committee, according to the town, will also “operate as a public interface between Garner residents and town officials to explore ways in which to honor and recognize the service of area veterans.” It will also help plan for ceremonies, observances, holidays and other events honoring veterans. It will also be a liaison with local veterans organizations.
The group meets the first Monday every other month, and the meetings are public. During its August meeting it discussed tours, panel replacements, and ideas for signage and potential rules for controlling pets.
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For example, the committee chair and Ret. Navy Cmdr. Jeff Hicks said the committee expects to run tours about two tours per month and at the request of any organization that wants to set one up. They will be set up through the town and the White Deer Park administration. Guides will be volunteers, typically who had some hand in the memorial or who come from veterans groups.
Dedicated brick sales will also continue into the future with the town managing proceeds in order to fund maintenance and new brick installation. It speaks to the dynamic aspect of the memorial, which has space at the end of its decade-by-decade time-line of conflicts so that future conflicts can be added.
“The memorial is a living memorial; it’s not static,” Hicks said.
The $500,000 memorial was completed last spring and dedicated in May 2013, an event made possible by the Memorial Committee that organized fund-raising efforts and formed a nonprofit to administer the project.
That committee is in the process of shutting down operations as its purpose has passed. The memorial belongs to the Town of Garner along with the rest of Lake Benson Park in which it sits.
But the Veterans Memorial Committee did more than collect money and hire a builder. It also put on remembrances on holidays and developed relationships with veterans organizations, positives that the town was pleased to maintain with a new seven-member committee with three additional ex-officio members.
Those ex-officio members are Terry Chatfield of American Legion Post 232, Bob Wendell of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10225, and mayor Ronnie Williams. Chatfield and Wendell will help keep the town in consistent contact with veterans groups.
By rule, the committee the town established must have at least four veterans; it has five. And all three ex-officio members, who can vote, are veterans. Two members of the Memorial Committee – Faye Gardner and Ret. Maj. Gen. Charles Scott – also serve on the Advisory Committee.