Half-time ceremony pays tribute to veterans

During halftime of the Southeastern boys’ basketball game on Jan. 27, students and fans honored local veterans from all of the military branches. The ceremony also served as a chance to get the word out about efforts to raise money to erect a veterans memorial in South Charleston.

(Posted Feb. 1, 2018)

By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer

Leonard Kadel was overcome with awe as he stood alongside 14 fellow veterans during halftime of the boys’ basketball game at Southeastern High School on Jan. 27.

As he looked around the gymnasium, he saw dozens of students and South Charleston residents wearing patriotic T-shirts, waving flags and cheering as the band performed a medley of songs from each of the military branches. A group of Southeastern students handed thank-you cards to Kadel and his fellow veterans in appreciation of their service.

That could have been the end of the celebration, a temporary display to honor those who served. The students could have returned to the bleachers, watched the rest of the game and called it a night. The community could have done the same. Instead, they used the remainder of the game to continue their fundraising efforts for a permanent celebration of local veterans.

More than a year has passed since members of the South Charleston Community Club and the Southeastern High School student council joined forces to raise money to establish a memorial for veterans. It has been a slow process, admitted Kathy Mercer, a math teacher and student council advisor, but it has been moving forward.

“I would definitely say it’s an on-going effort,” she said.

At events sprinkled throughout South Charleston, the two groups have raised nearly $17,000 to create a permanent veteran’s memorial that is slated to be placed near the community pool along U.S. Route 42.

A majority of the funds have come from the sale of honor bricks engraved with the names of living or deceased veterans. Additionally, the student council has raised money through the sale of the patriotic T-shirts that were on display at the basketball game.

“The student effort has been outstanding,” said Kadel, an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War.

But, as Mercer, said, the fundraising efforts are on-going.

“We have a ways to go before we are able to collect all of the funds needed for the permanent memorial,” she said.

Kadel, who is part of the community-led committee to raise funds for the memorial, estimates that $50,000 to $70,000 is needed.

“I would say it’s a phased project [due to the financial scope],” he said.

The first phase will be the placement of honor bricks at the designated lot near the pool. Kadel hopes the project will build from there.

Kadel said the committee has sold 50 honor bricks so far and would like to sell at least 50 more.

As the community committee is tasked with brick sales, the student council committee is putting together a 5K run, an adult prom, and a golf outing this spring and summer.

Both Kadel and Mercer said that while they know there is much to be done, they have no doubt about the memorial’s importance to the community.

“It’s just our way of saying ‘thank you’ for what they have done for us,” explained Mercer.

A Veteran’s Memorial Fund has been set up at Security National Bank, 102 N. Chillicothe St., South Charleston. To purchase an honor brick for a veteran, contact Kadel via email at lkadel@securitynationalbank.com or via phone at (937) 462-8368.

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