DARLINGTON—The ground was broken for the Darlington Area Veterans Memorial following the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 28.
Greg Bykowski, member of the Darlington American Legion Post 214 and Darlington High School art teacher, pushed the golden spade into the ground at the sight of the future memorial. He and his high school art students provided the inspirational drawings for the memorial committee to design the final rendering of a 50-foot half-circle of black granite with veterans’ names etched in the stone.
To prepare the site, two trees were removed on Saturday, May 26.
The following companies have been lined up to create the memorial, some as donations and some as discounted services:
n Casey Crist, excavating
n Ace Concrete, concrete
n Tuescher Electric, electric wiring of eight lights
n Krause Monument, granite and engraving of names
n Backyard Ltd., backfilling and landscaping
David Gough of the Darlington American Legion Post 214 and Darlington Area Veterans Memorial Committee told a large crowd that the excavation of the site will start following Canoe Festival, June 7-10, and should be completed later this summer. A dedication ceremony is planned for the weekend of Veterans Day in November.
“The names are what’s taking the most time right now,” Gough said. “We’re doing the best we can. We commissioned the memorial to have a minimum of 2,000 names on it.”
Phyllis Sonsalla said the Darlington Area Veterans Memorial Committee has only gathered 1,374 names and approximately 500 of those don’t specify the years of service or the war era the veteran served.
“We’re relying on the older people and the historians in the community to help us gather the information,” Gough said.
Gough announced at the ground breaking ceremony that approximately $180,000 of the $250,000 goal has been raised for the memorial. The money raised is probably enough to complete the project, but there will be no remaining money to fund perpetual care, replacement flags and ongoing maintenance of the memorial. He said seven flag poles and at least four benches can be purchased by individuals in memory of a loved one; talk to a member of the memorial committee for details.
Gough told the crowd how appreciative he was of all of the fundraising and generosity of the Darlington community, especially the students.
“The kids in the schools raised an amazing amount of money for this memorial and we appreciate all of their efforts,” Gough said.
Gough announced that Barb Nemec was granted a $10,000 grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution to assist with the funding of the memorial. It was the second time the committee applied for the grant, but the first time it received an award. The grant is included in the $180,000 already raised.
“We’re not where we need to be to finish it, but we need to finish it,” Gough said.