Area veterans memorialized

Published 6:21 pm Sunday, August 22, 2010

After years of planning, local veterans have made the dream of erecting a monument become a reality. Representatives from the local American Legion and VFW posts have combined their efforts to place a permanent show of appreciation into place for those who fought to defend freedom around the world.

Lee “Levan” Martin, former adjutant of the American Legion and current commander of the VFW, said plans for the monument began years ago.

“We began talking about this and planning several years ago,” Martin said. “Byard Swift and I started looking at other monuments in the area. He even went as far as St. Louis, Mo. Before the big storm that hit Atmore so hard, we had already begun discussing putting up a monument. After the storm came through, we had to put that on the back burner since the post was so heavily damaged.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After Martin left as post commander at the American Legion, Aubrey Stanley took over command and joined in efforts to make the monument a reality.

“Aubrey started soliciting donations for a monument and I told him we had already been considering a monument,” Martin said. “At that time each posted appointed a committee of representatives that would work together on this monument.”

The first committee was comprised of Byard Swift and Jimmy Beck from the VFW and Fred Salter and Mike Hanks with the American Legion, Martin said.

“Byard was put in charge of the four-man committee and they worked hard on the project,” Martin said. “They brought examples of what the monument could look like and donations were collected.”

Once funds reached a point that the groups felt comfortable in moving forward, a monument style was selected and work began.

Jimmy Beck, one of the original committee members, said the groups wanted to create a monument that would represent each war in the past and into the future.

“We took each war and went through the records to get names to be put on the monument,” Beck said. “What we have now is all the way through the Vietnam War and we’ve even added some from the War in Afghanistan. I guess as long as we have wars, putting names on the monument will be an ongoing thing.”

Beck said there is still a good amount of work to be done around the monument.

“We still have landscaping that needs to be done at the monument site,” Beck said. “There will be concrete and brick work to be done, too.”

Beck said individuals will be able to purchase bricks with the names of veteran’s inscribed on them that will become a part of the monument site.

“We will be selling bricks that we can have the names of veterans engraved on,” Beck said. “As soon as we get all of the brick sold and purchased, we can get those down and go from there.”

Martin said the monument is a three-sided structure that dedicates each side to a particular branch of service.

“This was the best design we found,” Martin said. “One side is dedicated to maritime veterans that includes Marine, Navy and Coast Guard veterans. Another side is dedicated to Air Force and another side is for the Army.”

Work yet to be completed is being overseen by a six-man committee including Swift, Beck and Danny Ray Nall with the VFW and Roger Presley, Ivan Stewart and Jim Monroe with the American Legion.

“We will be putting up lights and flags at the monument site when more of the landscaping is done,” Beck said. “I think this is something Atmore is going to be proud of.”

The new Atmore Veterans Monument. Photo by Adam Prestridge