veterans memorial

Appalachian Power employees in the Pineville office provided a donation that will prowvide lighting for the Wyoming County Veterans Memorial in Oceana. Pictured with Denny Lester, second left, one of the organizers, are Appalachian Power employees Rick Anderson, Sean Barber, Jamie Walker, and, not pictured, David Stepp. The memorial project is spearheaded by the Veterans Support Group in partnership with the Disabled American Veterans, Mullens American Legion Post, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. The memorial will be unveiled during ceremonies scheduled Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.

Photo courtesy of Denny Lester

Spearheaded by the Veterans Support Group, dedication ceremonies for the Wyoming County Veterans Memorial are scheduled Monday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. in Oceana.

Gov. Jim Justice is among the scheduled guests, along with state Sens. Sue Cline, R-Wyoming, and Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, and Del. Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming.

The ceremonies will also include the West Virginia Vietnam Veterans Mobile Wall, which includes the names of West Virginians who were killed in action, prisoners of war, and those still missing.

Lineup for the annual Veterans Day parade begins at noon on the street behind Oceana Dental Center.

The parade will begin at 1 p.m.

Ronnie McKinney, a Korean War veteran and Wyoming County Honor Guard member, will serve as grand marshal.

The 21-gun salute and flag folding ceremony are scheduled at 2 p.m.

This year, Veterans Support Group members have raised the $75,000 needed for the memorial as well as an adjacent parking area.

The group has also sold the initial 500 black memorial bricks and are currently selling 200 additional bricks. The additional bricks are available, on a first-come, first-served basis, for $100 each.

Backed by the black brick commemorative wall, the memorial will also include three 6-foot-high “uprights” that will carry the names of those who died in the designated war, along with memorial benches and insignias of all the military branches – all in a semi-circle design.

The “uprights,” located in front of the commemorative wall, will include only Wyoming County veterans who died in combat, according to Denny Lester, one of the organizers.

County veterans who died in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and Middle Eastern conflicts will all be honored.

Five hundred black bricks are included in the commemorative wall, each honoring a veteran – even those who do not or have never resided in Wyoming County.

The design allows another 200 bricks to be added, Lester explained, and those are the bricks now available for sale.

The memorial bricks include the veteran’s name, rank, military branch, and years of service. Forms are available from the veterans.

The bricks also include two honoring the county’s first settlers, John Cooke and Capt. Ralph Stewart, who fought in the Revolutionary War.

The memorial was designed in black to coincide with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Lester noted. He visits the memorial annually.

“When you touch it, it touches you back,” Lester said of the national monument.

“When families come to see their loved ones’ names, it will touch them back,” he explained.

He hopes the county memorial will evoke the same emotions for veterans and their families.

“We want it to be healing, not only for service members, but for their families,” Lester emphasized.

The idea for the memorial was first discussed in November last year, Lester said, adding that the money was raised in less than seven months.

The project is spearheaded by the Veterans Support Group in partnership with the Disabled American Veterans, Mullens American Legion Post, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Lester said through the efforts of the combined groups, they conducted car stops across the county, hosted a car show and golf tournament, as well as collected donations.

“The community has stood behind us,” Lester noted.

Without community support, the veterans could not have raised the money in less than seven months, he said.

Easy access is one of the main features of the project, Lester explained.

The memorial is located alongside state Rt. 10, across from Gilliland Park and the Veterans Flag Memorial in Oceana.

There are memorials on the courthouse lawn in Pineville, but it is difficult for older veterans to get to them.

“This will be right off Rt. 10 – which runs from Logan to Princeton,” he said.

“We hope it will be a great thing for our community and county,” he said.

Additionally, the group is working to have the road by the memorial, and through Oceana, designated as the Veterans Memorial Highway.

“This is something that helps us heal,” Lester said previously, “and honors those who lost their lives in combat.

“We’re trying to honor those who gave so much for this country.”

The Veterans Support Group meets each Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the First Baptist Church basement in Oceana. All veterans are welcome.

To purchase a brick, to contribute to the project, or for more information, contact Denny Lester, Veterans Support Group, at 304-923-7803 or Bill Elkins, DAV, at 304-953-3200.

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