BENTON—Ground will be broken on Memorial Day for the Benton Veteran’s Memorial project.
To date, approximately $38,000 of the $40,000 goal has been raised and the committee feels confident in moving forward to the next phase: construction of the project.
The memorial will include four 8-foot monuments, the state flag, five service flags, two benches and two pedestals with plaques for the V.F.W. Ladies Auxiliary and thanking the community for donations. The names of past and present Benton area veterans will be featured on the eight monuments. The new display will be situated around the current monument listing the 14 Benton residents killed in action.
In 2010, fundraising began for the project.
“We’ve definitely got enough to go with it and get it completed,” Jim Kruser of the veteran memorial committee said. “We’re still doing brat sale fundraisers in June, July and August.”
The entire area will have a different look after the memorial is completed. Kruser said trees have been removed and the sidewalk will be moved so it doesn’t cut through the circular design of the memorial. Cody Austin of Benton engineered the design for the memorial.
The United States flag, installed in 2011, is the only addition to the existing monument since the project began.
The committee is currently collecting names to put on the memorial. Dave Weiskircher, head of veterans affairs in Lafayette County, is determining the dates each veteran was active.
“We need information from any family member or anybody on any veteran because they’ll stay in a file for anybody who wants to use the information for genealogy,” Kruser said. “We need the information more than we need funding at this point.”
Kruser said the memorial will have room for extra names to update the list as needed.
“As a reminder, a veteran, for our concern, is any individual who was a member of any branch, war time or not,” Kruser said. “One didn’t have to have deployed to any conflict or war to be included.”
Starting around June 1, excavation will begin.
“With any luck, we’ll have it done by the end of the year,” Kruser said. “We’d like to have it done by Labor Day, if everything would go right.”
Kruser said when he started this project, his plan was to have one stone featuring the names of the 382 deceased members in the eight cemeteries that the Benton V.F.W handles in the area, for a total cost of $1,760. Since then it has grown significantly.