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Fourth Vet Memorial stone a go
Enough names collected; Plans underway to purchase, engrave it
vet memorial stone four
Shown is the Veterans Day observance at the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial in 2018. The third stone was dedicated then, and now a fourth stone will likely be dedicated by year’s end.

Enough lines have been purchased and the long-anticipated fourth stone for the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial is in the works, Diana Watson told the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning.

“We’re here today to let you know that we have collected all of the names on stone four and we are proceeding in purchasing the stone and having it engraved,” said Watson, who works in the Operations Office and has adopted the project as a personal mission. “So we’ve completed four stones and the center stone, and we’re really excited about that.”

Now, the memorial will include 1,480 names. They range from the Civil War though today, and include the four main branches of the military, along with the Nursing Corps, she said. 

Of those, 49 soldiers were killed in action, at least one was missing in action and there are seven prisoners of war. “So we’ve got quite a history of our soldiers out there,” she said.

Watson was asked about a fifth stone. 

“I think right now, because this one took so long to fill, we’ll probably wait a little bit and then re-up the program later on down the road,” she said. “This makes me really sad because it’s certainly been an honor to talk to all the veterans and their families.”

“Well, I would like to thank you for doing all the hard work on this,” said commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, District 3.

“It’s truly been an honor,” Watson said.

There are as many stories as there are names on the memorial, she said. All are poignant. 

“My favorite story is about a lady who came in and told me that her brother, on his 18th birthday, was storming the beach in Normandy,” she said. He got on the beach and he was so scared and didn’t know what to do. 

“He heard a voice say, you’re going to be fine. I give you 40 years,” she said. “And 40 years later on his birthday, he died in his store in Oklahoma. I hear stories like that all the time. It’s amazing.”

“It has been an outstanding program,” District 4 Commissioner Jim Daily said. “It is something you can be proud of.”

Bids for the granite stone and the engraving are being taken through Feb. 7. The goal is have the stone installed and dedicated by the end of the year, Watson said.

“It is actually written in stone,” she said. So, once the process starts the list of names is checked multiple times to make sure it is accurate.


The other stones

Stone three was dedicated on Veterans Day in 2018. On April 23, 2018, the commission approved the purchase of the stone three at a cost of $23,024.  At the time, they had half the names needed for stone four. When the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Hoisington disbanded, members contributed money from the chapter to purchase 200 lines.

At $45 per line, 540 (about 370 veterans) had to be sold before each of the stones could be ordered.

Stone three took longer than the others and was started in 2016. It had become more challenging to find vets with county connections, Watson said.  

The second stone was dedicated on Veterans Day in 2016, and the first stone on Veterans Day the year before. But, the project dates back to 2012 when the idea of a memorial was first raised.

The first two stones flank a center obelisk. In addition to the stones, there are flags representing the branches of service, including Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy and Merchant Marines.

The third stone was staggered behind stone one. Number four will be behind the second.


The Golden Belt Veterans’ Memorial honors veterans with Barton County ties who have served in all conflicts and in all branches of the military who have a connection with Barton County. Qualifications to be included were proof that the veteran was at least at one time a Barton County resident and had an honorable discharge from the military. 

The veteran could be living or deceased, and active-duty service members were also eligible.

The monument is located at the Golden Belt Memorial Park, 59 NW 50 Road north of Great Bend.