By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — Editor's note: This is the last of four stories on Veterans Memorials established in Jefferson County.
WOODLAWN — Not only does the Veterans Memorial of Woodlawn serve as a monument to all those who bravely served their country, but it has educational value as well.
With its location right across from the Woodlawn Grade School, the memorial is frequently used by school officials to teach students about the importance of honoring veterans.
The monument, dedicated in 2004, is also one of the sites for the annual See You At The Pole prayer service program.
“It's to honor veterans, veterans of all services,” said Clarence Duckworth, secretary of the Woodlawn Veterans Memorial Committee. “And it's an educational thing for the kids. … The students come over here and visit quite often.”
The marble monument includes the names of roughly 248 local veterans. Behind the structure are seven flags representing the country, state, and various branches of the military.
Names are still being accepted for the monument, Duckworth said.
“There are plans to add to it. We don't know just exactly how yet,” Duckworth said.
The idea to build the memorial came out of conversations between Duckworth and his friends in 2001.
The group, many of whom are Woodlawn area veterans, meets for breakfast every week. One of the group members, Derwood Baker, remarked one day how a veterans monument in Woodlawn “would be a good idea,” Duckworth said.
“(Baker) said, 'you know we meet here every week and have breakfast and talk and we don't do anything,'” Duckworth said.
Soon, the group formed a Memorial Committee with Baker as its president, and fundraising efforts began. Baker has since resigned from his position as president.
To generate revenue, the group held spaghetti suppers, sold steaks, held a gospel concert, and sold commemorative coins. The project also received a generous $5,000 bequest from a local veteran.
So far, about $50,000 has been raised for the monument, said Lyle Endicott, current president of the Memorial Committee.
Primary work on the monument was finished in 2004. Phillips Memorials in Mt. Vernon did most of the construction work for the project.
“The day we had our dedication, we were debt-free,” Duckworth said.
Robert Schwarzlose, one of the newer members of the Memorial Committee, said young people should pay close attention to the monument and what it represents.
If it wasn't for the veterans and their sacrifice, kids wouldn't be able to lead the lives they now enjoy, he said.
“It's a good reminder,” Schwarzlose said.
Upkeep is ongoing for the memorial and expansion plans are in the works.
If you are interested in donating to the project, contact Duckworth at 214-0091.