So. Charleston groups unite to honor vets

(Posted March 31, 2017)

By Lori Smith, Staff Writer

The old proverb, “Many hands make light work,” is certainly coming true in regards to a new veterans memorial in South Charleston.

Southeastern High School’s student council and the South Charleston Community Club each have been working to create a memorial to honor area military veterans. It wasn’t until recently that the two groups discovered they shared the same goal. They have since united their efforts.

“We never wanted it to be just us,” said Kathy Mercer, a math teacher and student council advisor at the high school. “Our idea was to present it to the village, and see where it went from there. The student council doesn’t want ownership. They just want to get it started.”

Mercer said she initially proposed the idea of creating a veterans memorial to the student council about a year ago after seeing one in Jeffersonville and thinking the community was missing something similar.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t they have that in South Charleston? Wouldn’t that be neat if the student council could get that started?’ ” Mercer said.

The student council formed a committee that started talking about the idea more in depth. They created a basic plan, featuring a wall and an engraved brick walkway, that recognizes all branches of the military. One student in particular, senior Julie Myers, is working on the design plan. Other students on the committee are: seniors Molly Hammond, Saylor Evans and Leah Ruby; junior Alessa Deal; and sophomores Charlie Bertemes and Rylee Harrington.

After presenting their idea to the village during a recent meeting, the student council representatives were excited to hear that the other group has a similar mission, Mercer said.

Leonard Kadel, a member of the South Charleston Community Club and branch manager at Security National Bank, said his group was also pleased to learn they were working toward a common goal.

“This actually started a while back,” he said. “We didn’t realize the student council at Southeastern had also given some consideration to this.”

The Community Club also has looked at veterans memorials in neighboring communities for ideas.

“Some have very elaborate memorials … some are very simple,” said Kadel, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. “I think we’re looking for something simplistic, something that any veteran from any era can visit and feel it represents them.”

Kadel sees the Community Club stepping back and letting the students take the lead on this project.

“We’ll be in the background to help with the funds and find a spot to put it,” he said, noting that he is pleased the young people see the need for this. “It’s important that they want to recognize what the veterans from our community have done to give the kids the freedoms they have today.”

Both groups have a few sites in mind, but nothing has been decided yet. They agree it would be nice to have it in a place that is visible when driving through town.

“The kids are really excited about it because it looks like it’s going to happen,” Mercer said. “Once we get all the specifics and information, the students will get together and make a Go Fund Me page, which will make it easy to collect donations online.”

They also plan to start looking into grants to help fund the project, Mercer said, and a soft goal is to have it completed within a year.

“We have a lot of veterans from around here,” Kadel emphasized. “A vet is a vet whether he gave his life, his legs, or just his time—and I think he should be recognized.”

Tax deductible donations can be made payable to “Community Club Veterans Memorial” and dropped off or mailed to Security National Bank, 102 N. Chillicothe St., South Charleston, OH 45368. To be part of the committee or for more information, contact Leonard Kadel at (937) 462-8368.

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