Fundraising Effort for Orange County Veterans Memorial Increasing

The site has been chosen, plans are underway and the Veterans Memorial Fundraising Committee has begun efforts to raise money for the new memorial.

The memorial will be built off of Homestead Road, in the field adjacent to the Southern Human Services Center.

Renee Price is an Orange County Commissioner and committee member. She says she has backed the memorial from the beginning, and now that everything else has been decided, it’s time to start raising money.

“I think once people know that something is happening; the momentum is there; it’s real, then they’ll start giving.”

The committee presented renderings at the walk-through to show board and community members what the finished memorial could look like. The memorial plan will have four different sections, or rooms. Each will have a different theme such as: family, freedom or sacrifice. There will also be a spot with an American flag toward the middle.

“That will have somewhat of a formal design around it. The rest of this is very informal and natural. But around the flagpole it will have kind of ordered and regimented, if you will, design elements,” said David Swanson – the landscape architect for the memorial.

He says, while the design for the project was important, it was also important to incorporate preservation into the project.

“The scale of this is, as we say, it’s four outdoor rooms, but they’re all set into a natural grove of trees which is these beautiful, I would say 100 year old trees.”

But before these outdoor rooms can be built around the trees, Fundraising Chairman Lee Heavlin says it’s going to take a lot of community effort.

“Anyone who wants to participate in raising money, it’s going to take a lot of people and their energy to build what we need – which is about $250,000 to $300,000.”

But Price says she thinks Orange County residents will realize the importance of the memorial, and will want to help.

“A lot of people may think of veteran’s memorial; they think military; they think war. But this is about—yes indeed, wars occur – but nonetheless, we do have to celebrate our freedoms and this is one way of doing that.”

The fundraising committee says they are hoping to work with church groups, schools and veterans groups to make the Orange County Veterans Memorial a reality.

Fundraising Effort Underway for Orange County Veterans Memorial

A site has been chosen for an Orange County Veterans Memorial and now fundraising efforts are underway to help make that vision a reality.

“The beauty of this is that we have all theses old trees here,” Lee Heavlin said in describing the wooded plot adjacent to the Southern Human Services Center off of Homestead Road, where the Veterans Memorial will eventually sit.

Heavlin is the fundraising chairman for the Orange County Veterans Memorial and former post commander of the American Legion Post No. 6 in Chapel Hill.

“It’s a walkway with wheelchair access,” said describing the plan for the memorial. “And there’ll be a park area with paving stones and walls to kind of give it a border.”

Heavlin said a portion of the lot was being “redeveloped so you’ll be able to see the flagpole and part of the monument from the road.”

Listen below to the full story about the Orange County Veterans Memorial:


The land proposed to be used for the Veteran's Memorial. Photo via Blake Hodge.

The land proposed to be used for the Veterans Memorial. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Heavlin said it was important to those in the planning process that the work would not alter the land that will house the memorial.

“We can nicely do this without hurting the soil and the trees and give the people a place that they can go to,” Heavlin said. “The senior center at the bottom of the hill – that road will be realigned a little bit – there will be a walkway coming from there up.

“So they’d have a nice place to go walk too, to expand on what we already have.”

Heavlin said this placement will allow for calm reflection for visitors to the site.

“It’s easily accessible from many places,” Heavlin said. “And when you go here, it’s a park. It’s going to be an elegant-looking thing.

“We’re not losing trees. These trees will all stay. And these [are] well over 100 years old.”

Heavlin said, now that the site has been chosen, they are turning their attention to raising money.

“What we really need today, ideally, is $5,000,” Heavlin said. “If we could find a benefactor, someone in Chapel Hill said, ‘Hey, I want to make a difference, and I’m not looking to get my name on a wall somewhere. I just want to be there for the Veterans Memorial, and I would like to make a large contribution.’”

Heavlin said that money would continue funding the architecture work.

Once the Orange County Commissioners give final approval to the plans, which Heavlin said could come this fall, the group will be able to expand its fundraising effort. Heavlin said that would include opportunities to purchase commemorative bricks and other features to be included in the overall memorial.

He added that if everything went according to plan, a groundbreaking could be held around Veterans Day this November with construction beginning next spring.

Heavlin said this monument will be a benefit to the entire community, including veterans and future generations learning about Orange County’s history.

“It’s all about legacy,” Heavlin said. “Do we want to remember those who served our country? Not everyone goes to combat. Not everyone has to go overseas. For every one person who’s on the combat line, there [are] probably 10 people supporting them.

“This is for everybody. This is for people from years ago. This is for people who are serving today. It’s our way of saying to the veterans who’ve returned – or came here for the first time – that we, as citizens of Chapel Hill [and] Orange County, are proud of their service. And we honor them.”

You can learn more about getting involved and donating to the Orange County Veterans Memorial here.

Chapel Hill Leaders OK Veterans Memorial Concept Plan

CHAPEL HILL- The Chapel Hill Town Council endorsed a plan to build a veterans memorial at the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery, but council members say they want more details on how the site will be maintained.

Rusty Edminster grew up in Chapel Hill and remembers when Chapel Hill High used to be on Franklin Street. Like many in his class of 1962, he was called to serve in the Vietnam War. On Monday he asked the Town Council to approve a proposal from a group of his fellow veterans to honor all of Chapel Hill’s military service members.

“I urge you to approve this memorial, because it’s a permanent way for the Town of Chapel Hill to say thank you for the time that veterans and their families sacrifice for the service of not only this community but also the United States,” said Edminster.

A committee of veterans has been working since 2009 to site and design a veteran’s memorial in Chapel Hill. The council on Monday unanimously approved an initial proposal to locate the memorial in the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery off of Fordham Boulevard.

The proposal would transform an existing brick plaza into a tree-lined, stone-paved courtyard with five monuments, each representing a branch of the U.S. Military.

The project will be funded by private contributions. But although support for the plan ran high, many on the council said they wanted more details about the cost of maintaining the memorial, which will be located on town-owned property.

Parks and Recreation Director Butch Kisiah told the council organizers are hoping to raise enough money to cover long-term maintenance.

“One of the ideas with the fundraising is to not only raise enough money to build the memorial, but to have a maintenance fund that would go with it,” said Kisiah. “Right now we’re looking at around $300,000 to make all of this work.”

Matt Czajkowski, the only veteran currently serving on the council, said he’d like to see the town chip in as well.

“If the Town of Chapel Hill can’t at least contribute to the maintenance of this beautiful memorial, then I think that’s shameful,” said Czajkowski. “Surely we can find a little bit of money at least to participate in contributing to the maintenance of this.”

The council voted unanimously to endorse the plan, paving the way for a fundraising campaign led by former council member Jim Merritt and UNC’s Associate Vice Chancellor Bruce Runberg.

Click here to find out more about plans for the Chapel Hill Veterans Memorial.