American Legion plans new veterans monument in Monroe

American Legion Arthur Kincaid Post 58 Chaplain Boyd Booze presented to the Monroe City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 11, unveiling a proposal for a new veterans monument to be installed at Monroe's Lake Tye Park.

Joining Booze in council chambers were American Legion Arthur Kincaid Commander Larry "WoodyGÇ¥ Woods, 1st Vice Commander Russel Dean, Finance Officer Jerry Taylor and Adjutant Robert Critser.-á -á

Monroe's World War II monument is currently tucked quietly away near the intersection of Kelsey and Hill streets, at the north end of Memorial Field. Honoring Monroe veterans who lost their lives in World War II, American Legion Post 58 installed the stone monument in 1951, intending to go back and add the names of the soldiers later.

Booze brought photographs of the monument and shared them with councilmembers.

"As you look at the photographs, you'll see it's in disarray. It's falling apart,GÇ¥ Booze said. "It's behind a locked gate, and I've spoken with a number of people in Monroe who don't even know that it exists.GÇ¥

A recent collaboration between the Legion, the Monroe Historical Society and Park Place Middle School teachers Tonia Boyle and Dottie Simoni served to shed some light on the forgotten monument. Deciding to make a project out of it, Simoni and Boyle tasked their eighth-grade humanities students with researching the 18 Monroe soldiers who died in the war.

The students embraced the project, poring over old yearbooks, scouring the Internet, making phone calls, tracking down family members and searching through Monroe Monitor archives.

Historical society docents Tom Parry and Merv Boyes assisted students during the course of their research. Boyes served in World War II and went to high school with several of the soldiers who died in combat.

The research culminated in student presentations and a veterans panel at the end of the school year during a free event called "Gone but not Forgotten.GÇ¥-á

Since then, the Legion has been working with the Monroe Parks Department to identify a new, more prominent location for the monument. Rather than attempting to move the existing structure, the Legion has decided to create a new monument ' one that honors all veterans who have given their lives while serving in the United States military.

The Legion formed a three-person committee that worked with the parks department to identify a location at Lake Tye Park. Preliminary plans include a 4-foot by 3-foot granite monument set atop a 12-inch base, which will rest on top of an 8-foot by 5-foot concrete pad. The monument will be located in the grassy area west of Fryelands Boulevard and east of the concession stand.

"What we want to do is take the brass plaque off the existing monument and embed that in the new one,GÇ¥ Booze said.

The 8-inch wide monument will feature six 5-inch emblems etched into the granite, each representing a branch of the military. It also will include the names of the 18 local WWII veterans who lost their lives in the war. The Legion has further plans to incorporate a 30-foot high, lighted flagpole at the site, featuring both an American flag and a POW-MIA flag.

"It will be lighted with a solar panel, so there's no electricity running to the pole,GÇ¥ Booze said.

A 501(C)3 nonprofit, the Legion hopes to gather donations from local businesses and individuals to help them complete the project. They asked for the city's support, along with relief from any relevant permit fees. Early cost estimates indicate that the project could be accomplished for $6,000 to $11,000, with an additional $3,500 for the flagpole.

Councilmembers were immediately receptive to the idea, as was Mayor Geoffrey Thomas. Thomas, Councilmember Jim Kamp and Councilmember Kurt Goering all attended the Gone but not Forgotten ceremony on June 3.-á

"My daughter was one of the students that was involved in researching this,GÇ¥ Goering said. "She had a great time doing this.GÇ¥

To make a donation to the memorial project, visit Donations should indicate that they are meant to support the WWII Memorial Fund.

Photo by Chris Hendrickson American Legion Arthur Kincaid Post 58 Chaplain Boyd Booze presents plans for a new veterans monument at Lake Tye Park to the Monroe City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Photo by Chris Hendrickson The American Legion wants to create a new veterans monument, rather than attempt to move the original stone World War II monument that was installed in 1951.


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