The Tri-State Vietnam Veterans gathered at the Avenue Cafe on Cumberland Avenue for Vietnam Veterans Day Saturday. They came together to celebrate and honor veterans and raise funds for a World War II memorial monument they want erected at the Middlesboro City Park.
The group was selling T-shirts for $12, and hats for $10 — with all proceeds going to funding the memorial.
“This year is the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II,” said Tri-State Vietnam Veterans member Dennis Miller. “We want to do this monument because there is no local commemoration.”
The Tri-County World War II Monument will be sculpted out of Black granite from Africa. It will be placed among other monuments dedicated to wars already located in the park. The group placed a Vietnam monument near the fountain in 1998 and they say this one will be similar, but somewhat larger in scale.
“The reason behind this memorial is to honor not only the soldiers, but ‘Rosie the Riveter’ too,” said member Mike Marcum. “We want to acknowledge the ‘greatest’ generation who gave so much overseas and here at home.”
The monument will be dedicated to the men and women of Bell County, Claiborne County, Tennessee and Lee County, Virginia — both civilian and military, who served our nation and the world in World War II.
“This monument is for everyone involved in the World War II effort,” said the group’s president Larry Thacker Sr. “Those who fought are the spearheads of course, but the people at home did their part too, and those people supporting the war effort from home were essential to winning the war.”
Tri-State Vietnam Vets are also asking that anyone with information on World War II veterans from this area contact them and they are especially interested in finding living veterans.
“We would like to identify any living veterans that come from the area, and we would like to find any that have passed that we are not aware of,” said member Jack Loveday. “They were gone for years and when they came back from the war they just started their lives. They didn’t want any parades or whatever and they just got back to living, and so it can be hard to find them.”
The total cost of the endeavor will be $15,000. All funds collected will go wholly to the project. With a contribution of $500 or more, any individual or business will have their name, or the name of a veteran inscribed on a separate plaque as a major contributor.
The group is hoping to dedicate the monument by October. All donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
For more information on this project or to make a donation visit the Tri-State Vietnam Veterans World War II Memorial Fund Drive page on Facebook or contact Larry Thacker at (606) 499-4277.
Reach William Tribell at 606 302-9100 or on Twitter @wtribellmdn