Veterans Day will include dedication of new memorial by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · November 09, 2012
After five years of work, a new veterans memorial may get the finishing pieces sometime this week in time for a formal dedication ceremony Nov. 11 in downtown West Branch. All that remains are the memorial stones, etched with more than 320 names of veterans serving as far back as the Civil War.
“I am 100 percent tickled to death with the community involvement and how it’s gone together,” co-organizer Norm Bickford said. “I’m very pleased.”
He and wife Pat, along with Phyllis Sondergard, spearheaded the memorial, which will be called Appreciation Park.
The dedication ceremony is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the park, situated between 109 and 111 East Main Street. Sgt. Major Duane Strong with the Rock Island Arsenal will serve as the main speaker. He has served for 25 years in the U.S. Army, spending part of that time in Afghanistan, Korea and Germany. Strong has earned numerous awards, including the Bronze Star.
In early stages of the project, the memorial was estimated to cost about $24,000 and would go up in Heritage Square, in sight of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Instead, the Bickfords last year purchased the office building at 111 East Main Street and tore out an addition. With a land donation from attorney Theresa Seeberger to the west, the proposed $50,000 park would go up between 109 and 111 East Main.
As time progressed, the cost of the park rose to about $65,000, and the group raised money as families paid to add names to the memorial and the Community Foundation of Cedar County provided them with a $7,500 grant.
Norm Bickford said the names run up to the present and include those who served in Desert Storm and Iraq. Most of the names are for men and women who served in World War II.
He said when people approach him about the park, they are most interested to see the stones.
“That is the big thing,” he said. “That will finalize the park.”
In anticipation of a crowd, the City of West Branch will allow the organizers to block off Main Street from noon to 3 p.m. After the ceremony, there will be cake and refreshments served at Town Hall.
Events scheduled to mark Veterans Day:
• Anytime: U.S. military members and their dependents may apply for a free annual pass to national parks and other federal recreation lands at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.
• Nov. 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — The Hoover Visitors Center will honor military members with 15 percent off on all items in their bookstore. Also, admission will be free all day to the Hoover Library-Museum.
• Nov. 11, 1 p.m. — “Unconditional Loyalty,” a program about African Americans in the armed forces who were fighting both discrimination and the war, will perform in the Hoover Library’s Figge Auditorium.
• Nov. 11, 2 p.m. — Appreciation Park dedication at 111 East Main Street.
• Nov. 11, 2:30 p.m. — Hoover Library will show Red Tails, a 20th Century Fox movie about a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program who faced segregation while being kept mostly on the ground during World War II yet are called into duty.
• Nov. 12, 10 a.m. — At Crestview Nursing and Rehab, American Legion will will present T-shirts to veterans.
• Nov. 12, 2:45 p.m. — At Hoover Elementary, the American Legion Chauncey Butler Post 514 will host an educational event for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.