With the nation's birthday less than four months away, Highland's veteran organizations are gearing up for a long-awaited dedication ceremony.
On July 4, the veterans memorial wall at Dennis H. Rinderer Park on Veterans Honor Parkway in Highland will be dedicated. Construction of the wall has been completed, and the first order of memorial bricks has been sent to the engraver.
The project is a combined effort of the city of Highland, Veterans of Foreign War Post 5694 and American Legion Post 439. The wall will be a memorial dedicated to Highland veterans who lost their lives in the line of duty during either World War, as well as first-responders who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"I believe this is just another example of the patriotism that veterans, any veteran of any branch of service, feels for the dedication to their country," said American Legion Post 439 commander Bill Halcomb.
The wall will be adorned with 18 bronze plaques, 17 of which will commemorate different veterans, and one Highland police officer. The final plaque, which will be placed at the wall's middle, will signify the purpose of the memorial. The plaque will have the saying "All gave some, some gave all."
To pay for the plaques, the Legion and VFW have been selling memorial bricks and granite slabs that will be used to pave a 300 square foot area around the wall. The organizations are hoping the wall's completion will spur another round of paver applications.
While enough donations have been made to pay for the plaques, an additional 220 square feet of pavers is needed to fill the area around the wall.
"We will continue to sell these pavers even after the dedication of the wall," Halcomb said.
Halcomb wanted to clear up something he thought has been misunderstood. He said the brick pavers can be for any veteran, living or deceased, who received an honorable discharge from any branch of the United States military. Or they can be in honor of any first responder — police officer, firefighter, or EMT — alive or deceased.
"We would like to honor all of these people if they are from the Highland area or from anywhere else that a family member would like to be recognized in this memorial," Halcomb said.
The project committee is also working to uphold requests to have the bricks be placed in proximity with relation's. For example, if a grandson wanted his brick to be put next to his grandfather's, he would be able to do so.
Halcomb said the organizations expect the bricks and plaques to be set sometime late this spring. Once the bricks are set, he said they can be removed and reset for later engraving orders. Money from these donations will go toward general maintenance for the memorial.
Applications with the available memorial brick and slab options and prices are available at the Highland City Hall, the Highland Chamber of Commerce, Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library, VFW Post 5694 and American Legion Post 439.