Never, ever forgotten
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 16, 2011 1:50 AM
The Wayne Veterans Memorial is located at the corner of Walnut and William streets on the site of the former Wayne County Memorial Community Building, which was dedicated to those who served and lost their lives in war. The newly constructed tribute will be dedicated on Veterans Day.
Ed Borden, a trustee of the Wayne County Memorial Association, looks with pride at the veterans memorial he and other volunteers helped create. In addition to the tributes to those lost to war, the memorial also offers visitors a place to reflect on the cost of freedom.
It started with a relentless fire -- a tragedy felt by the thousands who had made memories inside a building designed to pay tribute to the sons of an eastern North Carolina community who had been lost to war.
But years after the Wayne County Memorial Community Building was razed, a pulse can, again, be felt on the "hallowed grounds" it stood upon.
And in less than a month, the vision that arose from the ashes of a Goldsboro landmark will be dedicated by the men and women who, long after the blaze, remained committed to ensuring that the corner of Walnut and William streets would forever be a place to pay homage to those who never made it home from combat.
Several members of the Wayne County Memorial Association board of trustees came together Wednesday to tour the Wayne Veterans Memorial -- and to talk about just what residents could expect to see if they show up to witness the dedication of the site on Veterans Day.
And as they made their way from the pavilion to the large, granite map bearing the names of each fallen son, even they were taken aback by the finished product.
Ed Borden started to laugh when asked if he ever imagined that the design he looked at more than a year ago would result in a memorial resembling the one before him.
"No. No," he said. "Three weeks ago, I didn't think it was gonna look like this."
And fellow board member Bill Powell said he has already received an overwhelming response from several people who have made their way downtown to take in the site.
"I think we've all gotten a tremendous response from people who have come up and seen it," he said. "I got a call from one guy -- a man about my age -- he said he came and walked through it and it brought tears to his eyes."
Carroll Overton smiled.
In his mind, the new memorial might just be a more fitting tribute than the building lost in May 2004.
"The building was old and tired ... and the essence of what it meant was gone," he said. "So I think this is a revitalization of what the original intent of the site was."
Not long after the community building burned, those charged with preserving its legacy began entertaining ideas about what should be done with the parcel located at the corner of Walnut and William.
Many options were examined.
But after a conversation with local veterans, one of them, Borden said, was thrown out.
"They said, 'Don't sell that lot,'" he said. "They said, 'This is hallowed ground.'"
And hopefully, he added, when those men join the crowd scheduled to gather at the memorial Nov. 11, they will walk away feeling good about what was created there.
"This is the best thing we could think of," Borden said. "I think it will be well- received."