Despite overcast skies and intermittent rain, local city and military leaders turned out in force Thursday for the dedication of the new Veterans Memorial Park on the Havelock campus of Craven Community College (CCC).
Guest speaker Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Tom Braaten said the new park represented a chance to honor all veterans.
“Those that have given their lives, those that have served, those who are serving, and those who will serve,” said Braaten.
Braaten said there are currently 12,354 veterans living in Craven County, not counting active duty members, while 1.3 million service members throughout the nation are currently on active duty.
“We’ve had 1.2 million men and women who gave their lives so we could meet like this, so we could worship as we chose, so we can vote like we all did two days ago,” said Braaten. “If you want to thank a soldier be the kind of American worth fighting for.”
Though veterans come from all walks of life, said Braaten, they each share a common understanding of military duty.
“They served willingly, to the point where they signed a blank check to the United States for the amount up to and including my life. That’s a pretty significant gift to all of us,” he commented.
The CCC Veterans Memorial Park is a testament to the support both the City of Havelock and CCC have shown for local veterans, said Braaten.
“It shows that this community cares, this community college cares and they respect those who risked their lives so we might have the freedom which is never free.”
Wally Calabrese, CCC dean of Learning and Operations, recognized the veterans in the audience by inviting each of them to join him around the podium.
“This is your community college, we’re here for you,” Calabrese told the veterans.
Also in attendance were CCC President Ray Staats, N.C. Senator Norman Sanderson, N.C. Representative Michael Speciale, Craven County Commissioners Scott Dacey and George Liner, Havelock Mayor Will Lewis, and Havelock Commissioners Karen Lewis, Brenda Wilson and George Corbin.
The main feature of the CCC Veterans Memorial Park is rows of engraved bricks that recognize veterans as well as active duty personnel. The bricks are part of a scholarship fundraising project, “Remembering Our Past by Paving Our Future,” that allows individuals, families, and organizations to purchase engraved stones with specific names or messages, and then have them placed in the park.
The fundraising campaign is an ongoing collaboration between the Havelock campus administration, Collegiate Veterans Association and the CCC Foundation.
Proceeds from the campaign will be used to establish an endowment to support a veteran-affiliated student scholarship fund for curriculum or workforce development students at CCC.
On its opening day, Veterans Memorial Park had an initial placement of 200 bricks that had brought in $20,000 in funds to establish the endowment. The college ultimately hopes to raise $300,000 for the scholarship fund.
In addition to the bricks, the park also features a stone sitting wall and flagpoles that represent all five branches of the military, prisoners of war and those missing in action.
New bricks are still available for purchase at https://www.bricksrus.com/order/cravencommunitycollege/. They are available in the following sizes: 4x8-$130; 8x8-$250; 12x12-$550.
Bricks will be installed annually or per 100 bricks ordered, whichever happens first.