By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — New bricks imprinted with the names of recently fallen members of Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom were installed Tuesday.
"We want to have a special place at the monument for members of Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom team, and we installed a brick after Judith York died," explained co-founder David Keen. "Unfortunately, both Joyce and Pup Poorman passed away so we thought it would be nice to have a nice little section on our bricks for our JCOIF team members. Today Jack and Brett Phillips of Phillips Monument gave us the bricks and we're putting those down on the northwest section of the monument to commemorate their service to the organization."
J.D. Keen, a member of Bricklayers Local 8 of Illinois, volunteered his services to install the bricks. He also has been given another assignment by the JCOIF team.
"Through the course of time, especially our bricks on the north side, have kind of shifted a little bit, and maybe the alignment may be off as you go down toward the west. J.D. is going to fix those bricks so they can become permanent and not shift," Keen said. "They don't look bad, but they may be off a half-inch or so."
Several of the bricks at the memorial have chipped, and the two Keens — who are distantly related — are hoping to use brick filler to make repairs where needed.
Over 1,000 bricks are now on location at the Veterans Memorial in the city park. JCOIF have been selling the bricks since 2001.
"I've got about 15 other bricks that veterans have ordered so individuals can still order bricks. They can call Phillips Memorial, myself or any JCOIF team member, and then we can have the bricks made and placed here," Keen said.
The Veterans Memorial Monument was dedicated in December 2002.
Keen and Joyce Poorman started Jefferson County Operation Iraqi Freedom, which raises money to send PX cards to Jefferson County soldiers who are deployed.
Elbert and Brenda Cain of Mt. Vernon presented an American flag to the family of Joyce Poorman, who died in February, followed by the death of her husband, Harold "Pup" Poorman. The Cains received the flag from their son, Ramon Moss, who is stationed in Qatar.