Just across from Bethlehem Baptist Church on Highway 1232 lies a pentagon-shaped, black marble memorial to those from old Ward 8 that currently serve or have served in the US Armed forces, the Old Ward 8 Veteran’s Memorial (the monument).
The Old Ward 8 Veteran’s Memorial is a labor of love 15 years in the making. The memorial honors veterans and service members beginning with the Civil War to the present. According to Old Ward 8 Veterans Memorial Chairman, Kenneth Bates, anyone who has worn the uniform honorably and has an honorable discharge from any military branch, including reservist and National Guardsman, is eligible to be recognized.
The memorial organizers started finding service members and veterans by asking people they knew. There is a form to complete, and the service member, veteran or family members must have documentation to verify service. If there is a picture of the service member or veteran, that’s even better, says Bates.
Bates takes the completed forms, copies of any documentation, and pictures and uses them to create a comprehensive list and genealogy.
It takes a lot of patience, explained Bates; sometimes, it can take people a long time to get all the information and documentation back to me.
The collected information resides in a book for everyone to look through. The book will soon be one of many artifacts on display at the convenient store Bates is building at the corner of Highway 501 and 1232 in Calvin, which will be called Wattsville Center. The memorial currently has over 400 names. Twenty names of the over 400 are from the Civil War (all Confederates so far). Most of the service members and veterans listed served during peacetime.
This memorial has genuinely been a grassroots community effort, stated Bates. According to Bates, Mr. William Price donated the land, and many other community members have donated money, material, and labor to create the memorial.
On the front of the five marble monuments representing the five branches of the US Military, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air force appears a prayer. The memorial puts up special flags on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Future plans for the monument are to add two marble walls with each documented service member and veteran listed.