As the site of the “Largest Small Town Independence Day Celebration” and host of one of the biggest Veterans Day parades in the state, Jackson County has long had a reputation for patriotism. All over the county there are reminders of what those who have served this country mean to the people here.
Soon there will be one more indication of the patriotic spirit of this county.
A Veterans Memorial Walkway will be established at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center. A project of the Cedar Lakes Foundation, the walkway will be placed in the area around the flagpole by the Finger Lakes.
The Foundation is currently working with the company, Bricks R Us, to provide the commemorative bricks. The cost is $50 for the first brick ordered and $40 for each additional brick. Construction will begin in the spring of 2020.
According to Cedar Lakes Foundation member, Amanda Lee, the bricks are not intended to represent only veterans from Jackson County.
“We want to include veterans from all over the country,” Lee said. “The veterans certainly don’t have to be from only Jackson County. We want to remember all who have served our country.”
Clara Mullins, a member of both the Cedar Lakes Foundation and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), said that she hopes that veterans from every branch and every war or conflict will be represented.
Mullins explained that the bricks can symbolize those currently serving as well as organizations.
“Our Old Hickory DAR Chapter plans to buy a brick in our Chapter’s name,” she said. “It’s all about remembrance, past and present.”
Honoring those who served and sacrificed for this country is important to the DAR and many other individuals and organizations.
Joanna McKown, Chapter Regent of the Old Hickory Chapter of WVNSDAR of Jackson County, said, “From the Revolutionary War to today, thousands upon thousands of men and women ‘sacrificed their lives and fortunes’ so that we can be free. They deserve to be remembered and this walkway will be a small way to show that they are not forgotten.”
Mullins personally will be choosing to commemorate two of her ancestors.
“I will be purchasing bricks to honor my veteran Patriot, Andrew Skidmore, who fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 and my grandfather, Lonnie T. Ayers, from Randolph County, who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Ripley between 1935 and 1936,” Mullins said.
One special addition to the area will be a metal bench decorated with the symbols of the five branches of the military.
Donated by Constellium, this bench can be used as a place for quiet reflection.
Teresa Kerns, Communications Manager for Constellium, explained why the company chose to give this gift.
“These men and women have made such sacrifices for our freedom,” Kerns said. “This gift of a bench for this memorial walkway is just a small token of our gratitude.”
Robert Jones, a United States Army veteran who was deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, said that remembrance is important.
“There’s a pride in serving but also a great price was paid,” Jones said. “Much of that was paid by those before my time of service. And it continues today. They are worthy of remembrance.”
In addition to the veteran walkway, the Foundation will also set aside an area for those who want to purchase bricks to honor or remember non-veterans. This is where Mullins said the Ayers brick will be placed.
“There are many people who love Cedar Lakes, who have very fond memories,” said Lee. “People can choose to honor both living and those who have passed with these bricks.”
The funds raised from the sale of the bricks will be used to renovate the VFW cabin at Cedar Lakes.
“What better way to use the money we raise than to make this cabin the focus,” Lee said.
To purchase a brick, go to cedarlakesfoundation.com or mail the form located on page A6 of Tuesday's The Jackson Herald.