09/25/12 — Mount Olive makes plans for veterans memorial

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Mount Olive makes plans for veterans memorial

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 25, 2012 1:46 PM

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Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. talks about plans for the community's veterans memorial following a kickoff lunch Monday at the American Legion Post 103 building.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A ceremonial groundbreaking Monday began a project that officials are calling one of the most important the town has undertaken -- memorializing its war veterans.

"I get kind of choked up about this one thing because I think about all of those who have died for us to be here today," Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. told the nearly 90 people who gathered at the American Legion building for a kick-off lunch for the project. "It gets close to me because I had several relatives that died in World War II and the Korean War. You don't ever get to thank them. Once they are gone, they are gone."

A memorial will allow not just him, but the community, to remember -- and honor -- these heroes, McDonald said.

"We are going to make this a very professional memorial in their honor. It is about the fact that we recognize that they sacrificed the ultimate so that we could be free. We owe it to them to make it one of the best memorials that we can to honor them, their lives and their deaths. We need your help to do that. That is why we asked you all to come today. Any time you see somebody, talk about it."

VFW Post 9959 Commander Ray Harrell said he was appreciative of how the community had immediately supported the project.

American Legion Post 103 Commander Zoe Mossberg agreed.

"It is just an honor for me to serve on the committee that is paying homage to fellow service members who didn't come home, and to give their families someplace to go and pay their respects," she said.

While there is no design yet, McDonald has said he wants it to represent each branch of the service and to include the names of local veterans who died in combat from World War I to the present.

Along with soliciting donations, the committee is planning a fundraiser in which a new or used vehicle will be raffled off.

McDonald recalled some projects where he had been told that the money couldn't be raised.

"But guess what, we did," he said. "You all know this better than anybody -- when Mount Olive decides to do something, they do it. They don't believe in messing around. They get it done."

Over the past several months a committee chaired by McDonald has worked to lay the groundwork for the memorial.

Initial plans for the $30,000 to $50,000 memorial called for it to be built near the Park Avenue parking lot in Westbrook Park. However, following the groundbreaking, McDonald said the location could change.

He did not say what locations might be considered, only that people had made suggestions. McDonald said he wanted to talk with the committee before announcing other possible sites.

The committee's next meeting is Oct. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at town hall.

The Mount Olive Area Ministerial Association and local civic groups are helping spread the word about the project, and information about the projects is available on the town's website, www.townofmountolivenc.org. A Facebook page has been created as well.

The donations will come through the town that will set up a trust fund. That will ensure an audit will be done to show how the money is spent, McDonald said.

Any money remaining after the project is paid for would go into a trust fund to ensure that the memorial is properly maintained.

An account will be established at Southern Bank for the donations. Checks should be made payable to the Veterans War Memorial and mailed to Mount Olive Town Hall, P.O. Box 939, Mount Olive, NC, 28365, ATTN: Sherry Davis.