The Golden Belt Veterans Memorial is slowly taking shape. But Barton County officials said Monday they hope to re-energize the long-running project aimed at paying tribute to those from the county who have served their nation.
As of this week, 281 separate engravings have been sold for a total of 393 lines, raising $17,685 for the project. However, Memorial Parks Committee Chairman Mick Lang told the County Commission Monday morning more is needed.
“We need to have 147 more lines before we can set our first stone,” he said. “Our goal is to have the first stone set by Veterans Day.”
A line consists of 21 characters and costs $45. Most tributes only take one line, which can include the name, rank and branch of service.
Thus far, the center stone that bears the emblems of the military services has been installed and the flag poles that will hold flags of the various armed services have been erected. The concrete slab that will serve as the base for the stones and flags has already been poured.
Located in Golden Belt Memorial Park on NW 50 Road north of Great Bend, it was officially dedicated in May 2014.
The names of Barton County veterans will be inscribed on two stone tablets that will flank the center obelisk. However, prior to those stones being put into place, the county will need to collect enough money.
The memorial has been in the works for over three years, said commission Chairman Kenny Schremmer. But “we still haven’t reached everyone we need to.”
Qualifications for inclusion are proof that the veteran was at least at one time a Barton County resident and an honorable discharge from the military. To be included, the veteran can be living or deceased, and active-duty service members are also eligible.
Some veterans feel uncomfortable about tooting their own horn and don’t want to call attention to themselves, Schremmer said. But, their service is worthy of the recognition and they need to be honored.
“If you know someone, put a bug in their ear,” Schremmer said.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of names that could be on that list,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. The county just needs to spread the word.
There is money available to help those who cannot afford the $45 charge, Lang said. The Great Bend Tribune donated $1,000, of which $730 remains. That’s a little over 16 vets that can be sponsored.
There have also been several other individuals who have contributed to the cause.
Those wanting to purchase a spot on the memorial can bring their payments to the Barton County Administrator’s Office in room 107 of the courthouse at 1400 Main in Great Bend. For more information, call 620-793-1800.
Checks must be made payable to Barton County.
The first name to be placed on the stone markers will be that of the late County Commissioner Don Cates, a veteran and a pilot who died in an agricultural spray plane crash in April 2014.
When completed, the memorial will feature representations of each branch of the military, including Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy and Merchant Marines (who received veterans status for the years 1942-46). A gray granite marker will contain emblems for each. along with the inscription, “A nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten. This is but a small tribute to all the veterans whose names are forever etched on these tablets. We are eternally grateful for their service to this nation. All gave some, some gave all.”
In addition to the stones, there will also be flags representing the branches of service.
Local sculptor Chet Cale designed and is building the monument.
In February 2012, the Barton County Commission approved plans for the fund drive.
The Memorial Parks Advisory Committee is charged with advising and assisting the commission regarding the care and maintenance of the Barton County Memorial Parks and Cemetery. The Golden Belt Veterans Memorial is one of its long-term projects and passions.