10/23/08 — Duplin to honor Vietnam veterans

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Duplin to honor Vietnam veterans

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 23, 2008 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County Commission Chairman Harold Raynor rebuked Commissioner David Fussell Monday morning for his refusal to support a $1,900 contribution for a memorial honoring county veterans who were killed during the Vietnam War.

The board voted 5-1 to make the contribution, with Fussell saying he had to vote a "reluctant no." Fussell also voted against a budget amendment to fund the request.

"It is a worthy cause," Fussell said. "Personally, I will contribute. We (the county) do not have the $1,900. The tax rate set for next year will be so high that it will bankrupt many folks.

"If the board is willing to contribute, it needs to be willing to cut before adding more. Take out $1,900 somewhere else."

Fussell's comments drew prompt rebuttals from Raynor and Commissioner Reginald Wells, both veterans.

"You never know until you watch some of your friends die, then you have a different perspective," Raynor said. "Money is not everything. I plan to donate to the memorial, and I participate and try to participate in anything to uplift what military men and women have done.

"I was fortunate and blessed to come through. I have seen some die. I have seen some live. I have seen some wounded and that is a sad situation."

"I don't think $1,900 is going to break us for honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so you can sit here without fear of being bombarded," Wells added.

"I'd liked to offer a motion that if the county is in such dire need of money that each of us consider $300 towards the $1,900," said Commissioner Zettie Williams.

Commissioner Cary Turner said he would be glad to do so, but that currently he is trying to raise $10,000 to find and return home the remains of a cousin who died in Southeast Asia.

"These men were just not residents, they fought for Duplin County, North Carolina, United States," Wells said. "I think that we owe them that. I know that money is important, but $1,900 should not be an issue. We should be done with this discussion. I think the emphasis is on the county. The county is doing this."

The request for the donation was one of several made during the board's mid-monthly meeting by Charles Ingram of the Duplin County Historical Society.

A ceremony paying tribute to the county's 19 Vietnam War dead will be held Saturday, Nov. 1 at noon in the Cooperative Extension auditorium at Duplin Commons.

Ingram said he had asked each community to make a $100 donation for each of the men from the community who died during the war. He asked the county for $1,900.

The funds will be used to purchase a memorial to be placed on the county courthouse grounds. The memorial is expected to cost about $3,500. It will be nearly eight feet tall and four feet wide, Ingram said.

It will contain each man's name, hometown, rank and branch of service and dates of their births and deaths.

Ingram said the monument is the first of several that the historical society would like to place on the courthouse grounds.

The next project, he said, will be to honor those killed in the Korean War, then World War II and then all the way back to colonial times.

Any funds left over from the Vietnam project will be applied towards the Korean War memorial.

Ingram asked commissioners for their approval of the preliminary design for the monument and for permission to place it on courthouse grounds. He also asked that the county sign on as a sponsor of the memorial services.

Those requests were approved, and the commissioners instructed County Manager Mike Aldridge to work with Ingram and the historical society concerning placement of the monument.

Raynor praised Ingram for his interest in honoring the fallen veterans.

The memorial program will begin with lunch. The deadline to purchase tickets for the meal is Friday.

Checks should be made payable to the Duplin County Historical Society and mailed to the society at P.O. Box 775, Kenansville, NC 28349. The cost will be $10.

The Rev. Barbara A. Hedin, Ph.D. will be the speaker for the memorial program. Ms. Hedin, pastor of Grove Presbyterian Church, was a commissioned officer in the Army serving as a nurse in Vietnam.

Retired teacher Jo Cameron Jones also will speak. Ms. Jones taught several of the men who died.

Duplin County native Gen. Dan Kelly McNeill will be the principal speaker. His younger brother, Boone McNeill, is one of the men to be honored.

Gen. McNeill recently retired from the Army having served as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the memorial project should mail checks to the society at P.O. Box 775, Kenansville, NC 28349.

Sponsors are those who contribute at least $100, while donors may contribute any amount.