New monument, crowd honors vets

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

LINDEN-The rainy weather sent the County’s celebration of the new Veterans Monument in front of the Marengo County Courthouse indoors, but it did not dampen the spirit of the event. Many people still made their way to the courthouse to show their appreciation for the veterans and admire the new monument.

The monument began as a dream almost three years ago and became a reality earlier in the year. Lee Belcher, who was instrumental in gathering the names to be placed on the bricks surrounding the monument, said the whole thing began in casual conversation and grew from there.

“In November of 2002 some of us met with the idea to put the monument out,” Belcher said. “When we started we had nothing. Now it is paid for and we only have 10 spaces left. Those 10 spaces are reserved for the people over in Iraq that are coming back.”

Belcher said things began to happen fast and before long, all the space reserved for bricks was occupied.

“Basically, we are filled,” Belcher said. “For now there is no more room. There are 1,321 names.”

Dick Kirkpatrick, who helped design the monument, said he was very pleased with the way things turned out.

“I have a lot pf pride in this,” Kirkpatrick said. “When we first started talking about putting in a monument we said what is it going to look like? What are we going to do? How are we going to pay for it?”

Kirkpatrick said after brainstorming after a conversation about the monument he decided to work on a design. The design was well received and became the monument that sits on the square today.

“We had talked about it for a number of months and one Tuesday I just sketched out something I thought would be appropriate,” Kirkpatrick said. “I ended up drawing it out and took it to the next meeting and everybody thought it was really good. We decided we would go ahead with it.”

Once the group decided to move forward they chose Doric South do the work from the drawings. The monument developed from there as collaboration between Doric South and the veterans.

Kirkpatrick said he was still in awe of how wonderful the monument turned out.

“I just can’t believe yet how great it turned out,” Kirkpatrick said. “Everybody did their part. Lee did a lot of work for hours and hours keeping track of all the bricks and making sure the new bricks were put in. That takes a lot of work and Lee really did a great job and deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Belcher said he still plans to add one more step to the project. Sometimes people may have trouble finding a name. Belcher said he plant to develop a name location system to make things easier.

“People sometimes tell me they can’t find a brick,” Belcher said. “So I got with the Boy Scouts last weekend at the flag retirement ceremony and the Scoutmaster and a couple of boys are going to help me do a locater system so when somebody comes down they can pick up a book and be able to go find a name by section, row and whether it is left of right.”