Nick Hedrick - Journal Review
WAVELAND — This is the welcome Ron Keedy should have received coming home from Vietnam.
The Waveland native—who served in the Army—stood on the northwest corner of Cross and Green streets, where a new granite sign marks the site of the town’s veterans memorial.
A row of flags representing each military branch flapped in the breeze alongside flags for the United States, Indiana and soldiers held prisoner of war or missing in action.
“We were shunned,” Keedy said, recalling the widespread hostility faced by returning Vietnam veterans in the 1960s and ‘70s, “but this makes up for it.”
After years of stops and starts, work is once again underway to finish developing the lot into a formal tribute to military personnel from Waveland and beyond.
The effort dates back to 2007. Three years later, a fellowship group from Freedom Baptist, Christians in Action and Browns Valley churches began rounding up volunteers.
“There’s been numerous hands in the project over the years,” said Troy Phillips, a member of local revitalization group Waveland Strong.
When the organization formed in 2016, the memorial became one of its priorities. The project was included in grant proposals.
Money from the Montgomery County Community Foundation paid for the sign, unveiled last weekend during a Memorial Day ceremony. It will eventually become a permanent part of the memorial.
The land, once home to an antique shop and a variety store, was donated by resident Ralph Jones.
“I remember getting ice cream here,” said Keedy, another Waveland Strong member.
The group is now working to raise funds for the next phases of the project.
“We’re at the point right now where we’re really ready to start rocking and rolling on this and making things happen,” Phillips said.
Plans call for a brick walkway leading to and around the flagpoles. Some bricks were already engraved with the names of donors. Parking bumpers will also be installed along Green Street.
The bill for that portion rings in at $750, with the group planning to finish installation by August.
In the next phase, five slabs engraved with insignia for the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy will be placed in the memorial. Those cost a total $1,250 and are slated to be installed by Veterans Day.
Later, the group plans to install lights and make other improvements.
Vietnam veteran Ray France said the memorial is an opportunity for retired military personnel to show pride in their service and honor comrades.
France, who served in the Navy, is one of several veterans who help mow the lot and pick up trash.
“The veterans themselves are the ones that maintain the memorial,” France said.
Donations for the project are being accepted through a fund at North Salem State Bank.
Send checks to Veterans Memorial Fund, Waveland Strong, P.O. Box 137, Waveland, IN 47989.
The group has also renovated the town park’s shelter and organizes a monthly farmers market and movie night.
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