Monument honors area veterans

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the grounds in front of the Marengo County Courthouse is a monument erected in honor of Marengo County veterans who fought to defend this country.

Atop the monument is a folded U.S. flag to represent our military personnel who never returned home.

Organized and placed on the grounds in 2003, it was built through the sale of bricks with the names of veterans from this area.

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“It was funded through the sale of the bricks that surround the monument,” said Disabled American Veterans Chapter 31 commander Lee Belcher, whose organization worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to make the monument a reality. “They sold for $50 apiece, and the profit from that is what built everything. Right now, there are 1,342 names out there.”

Belcher, who helped organize the building and placement of the monument, has been working on a project to map each name to make it easier for families and loved ones to find the name of their soldier, sailor or pilot.

“Over a period of about three weeks, I put a locator system on there where I gave each section a letter designation,” Belcher said. “Each row has a number, starting from the outer edge and going up towards the monument. Each brick has a number in that row, whether from the left side or right side.

“Some of those are long rows, so I divided each section down the middle. When you look it up, you will see the name, then a section, row and number designation, like 4-R. That’s the fourth brick from the right.

“Once I get the book finished, I’ll put it inside the front door of the courthouse where the security guard is,” he said. “Then, people can pick it up. The main thing is look and see what section it’s in, and there’s a brief explanation on how to find it. When you find one, you can go around and find any of them. Right now, people have been going there and having to look and look.”

Belcher said there is no room to add more people in the monument as it is.

“The bricks that are blank, I’m waiting for information, and I’m waiting for our supplier to get some matching bricks,” he said. “Once those are completed, that’s it!”

The monument honors active and reserve members of all branches of the service, including the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Honored soldiers include those who fought as long ago as World War I and as recent as the current Iraq-Afghanistan conflict.

If you have some time this Veterans Day, make a visit to the monument on the grounds of the courthouse. See if you recognize any names and take time to think of the courage and sacrifice these people had to defend our country.