Groundwork laid for Fallen Soldier Memorial

By Kevin Spradlin

February 26, 2014

Volunteers are preparing a large piece of ground at Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park in Rockingham for the newest addition — a Fallen Soldier Memorial that will stand nearly 7 feet tall.

Larry Evans told The Daily Journal on Wednesday the privately funded project at the Old River Road site is to cost nearly $10,000. Donations to support the project have so far covered about 75 percent of the cost. The goal is to have the monument, which will include a bronze pair of boots and a rifle topped by a soldier’s Kevlar helmet in the shape of a Battlefield Cross. The monument is being created in Baltimore, Md.

Evans said the goal is to have the monument ready for unveiling by the Memorial Day ceremony in late May.

Evans said fundraising is an ongoing effort.

“Just in the past few weeks, I’ve had people stop by and see what we’re doing … and pull money out of their wallets,” Evans said. “I didn’t even have to ask.”

Evans, who serves as administrator of the Facebook page for VFW Rockingham Post 4203, posted Wednesday that contributions so far have “certainly enhanced my faith in the citizens of Richmond County to give to a most noteworthy project. The Fallen Soldier Memorial will pay tribute to all of our fallen soldiers from years past.”

The monument is not war-specific, Evans said, and its design is to be symbolic of lives sacrificed in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and other distance places where American military service members have fallen.

The Richmond County Veterans Memorial Park, established in 1999, is managed by a privately run board of volunteers. It features stone markers and white crosses for 291 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who died as well as war-specific monuments. The park was dedicated a year ago this month to Corey “Yank” Gibbon Jr. Gibbon, a Vietnam veteran, died July 27, 2013 at the age of 64. He was active with the Rockingham VFW Post 4203 and served as commander for a period of time.

Those interested in making a contribution to the effort or assisting in some other way can call Evans at 910-206-7599.