COLUMN: Memorial Day education
I spent Memorial Day at a pool with my family.
Just a few days later, I had a lengthy, fascinating discussion with close family friend and United States Military Veteran Michael Davis.
Now that’s quite a contrast.
Davis, who lives in Spruce Pine with his wife, Cheryl, and three dogs, talked with me for nearly three hours about the state of local veterans affairs. He also broke down the history of the Mitchell County Veterans Memorial in front of the Mitchell County Courthouse in Bakersville.
The memorial, which features a bench and a podium dedicated to local veterans, just turned six years old.
I was fascinated as I listened to Davis recount the history of the memorial.
As Davis recalls, he walked out of the courthouse one day and realized the open area in front of the courthouse was far too bare. He thought an area dedicated to remembering military service members as well as emergency first responders would be a perfect use of the space.
Not long after, Davis talked about the idea with then-Mitchell County Commissioner Joe Street.
Street loved the idea and asked Davis to create a rough draft and bring it to then-Mitchell County Manager and current Bakersville Mayor Chuck Vines.
Vines was also intrigued by the idea and supported it entirely, but he warned Davis similar monuments had been planned before in that location and each ran into roadblocks.
Davis was persistent.
Vines suggested taking the idea to James Henline. The two sat down and created a formal proposal complete with a blueprint and cost estimates.
Davis brought the updated plans back to Vines, who told Davis to take it to the Mitchell County Commissioners.
Davis said he also brought the idea before the Disabled American Veterans of Mitchell County, but the group’s leadership shied away from the idea, telling Davis it was too expensive and money was an issue.
Davis assured them he could get the money.
Shortly after, he found himself in the regular January meeting of the Mitchell County Commissioners and got the funding.
The Commissioners moved to fund the project using county money and the rest, as they say, is history.
Davis says the Mitchell County Disabled American Veterans group was excited to hear of his success after the fact. In fact, to this day, there is a brick at the monument with their organization’s name chiseled on it.
Davis was quick to remind me, however, the monument doesn’t belong to one veterans organization, and it certainly doesn’t belong to any one person.
If you’re a Mitchell County taxpayer, it belongs to you.
The monument is a constant reminder of the sacrifices of many local veterans and was erected because of the hard work and persistence of those mentioned in this column, as well as many others.
Davis and his wife wanted to help give back to a community they love and to other local veterans. With plenty of patience, cooperation and teamwork, that goal was realized.
There’s no plaque at the memorial for any individual other than the veterans and Davis says that’s the way it was always intended.
As we reflect this time of year for those who paid the ultimate cost fighting for our country, I’d like to say thank you to Davis, Vines, Street, Henline and the rest of the people who helped make the Mitchell County monument possible.
Most importantly, however, I’d also say thank you to those who have served or are serving our great nation in any capacity.
Cory Spiers is a reporter for the Mitchell News-Journal. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.