‘Everything that’s been done here is humbling’

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(Posted Nov. 13, 2019)

By Theresa Hennis, staff writer

A dedication ceremony for South Charleston’s new veterans memorial took place on Nov. 11. The memorial project was a collaborative effort among members of the community and students at Southeastern High School. The memorial sits at the corner of Woodward Street (State Route 41) and South Church Street.

Charlie Bertemes, a 2018 graduate of Southeastern High School and former student council leader, welcomes the community to the dedication ceremony and thanks everyone who helped make the memorial possible. Bertemes designed the black granite monument after researching other monument designs from around the nation. He borrowed some ideas from those monuments and came up with his own design idea. The design then evolved from the original concept Bertemes presented.
Members of American Legion Post 176 participated in the dedication of South Charleston’s new veterans memorial. Members helped with much of the labor that went into preparing the site. Howard Myers, a veteran and Post 176 member, was a driving force in organizing those who contributed labor and resources to finish the project. He was unable to attend the ceremony as he was in the hospital with pneumonia.
South Charleston Mayor Sam Stucky leads a prayer at dedication ceremony. He also spoke about his pride in how the village came together to bring the memorial from an idea to reality. He called the site “the cornerstone of the community, a reminder so that people will know the great sacrifice of the men and women who served to give us the right to be free.” The Southeastern High School band, under the direction of Derek Richardson, played the national anthem to open the ceremony.
Three 30-foot tall flag poles fly the American, Ohio, and Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flags at the monument, along with poles flying flags that represent the five branches of the military.
The memorial committee sold personalized brick pavers inscribed with the names of area residents and veterans. The bricks surround the monument which sits in the center of a red concrete star. Bricks honoring veterans are grouped according to the branch of service in which the honorees served. Leonard Kadel, committee treasurer and an American Legion Post 176 member, said, “This has been a labor of love. One of the unique things about the memorial is that bits of sand from Iwo Jima were poured into each of the five areas representing the military branches. Darryl Closser (a U.S. Navy veteran) of London collected the sand in vials from Iwo Jima and donated it to us. In my opinion, everything that’s been done here is humbling.”

 

The front of the black granite monument, the focal point of the South Charleston veterans’ memorial site, is engraved with scenes that depict service men and women in battle.
A poem, “It is the Soldier,” written by an U.S. Army veteran Charles M. Province, is inscribed on the back of the monument. Province is the founder and president of the George S. Patton Jr. Historical Society. He wrote “The Unknown Patton,” “Patton’s Third Army’ and “Patton’s One-Minute Messages.” The poem reads: “It is the soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion. It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

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