Honoring Upstate Veterans

Veterans Day is next week, and all over the Upstate, communities have come together to create spaces to honor and memorialize local veterans.

In Union County, a Veterans Memorial has existed for several years on Main Street in Union, but this year a brand new memorial for the fourteen Vietnam veterans from Union County who were killed in action was installed and dedicated, and the families of the fallen soldiers were recognized at a service on Memorial Day.

A local Vietnam veteran who had been close to one of the ones killed in action, with the support of the Vietnam Veterans Association and students in an AP history class at Union County High School, led the effort to make the memorial a reality. The students researched information about each soldier, and with donations raised from the community, a marker was made for each of the 14 soldiers, with his name, rank, branch of service, date killed, and age at death; each marker also includes a photo. The memorial is located at Veterans Memorial Park.

In Greenwood County, Elise Benson, the daughter of a World War II veteran, approached Carey Bolt, head of Veterans Affairs in the county, about creating a beautiful green space outside of the Veterans Affairs building. After securing a $5,000 grant from the National YMCA’s Fresh Page Project, Benson’s idea became a healing garden with picnic tables, benches, and plenty of plants and flowers. “It’s just a nice place to sit and reflect or just to enjoy the outdoors,” Bolt says.

The Veterans Affairs building itself is a point of pride to Bolt, who says the county took a chance on him and let him create what he calls a one-stop shop for veterans. The building was once the library in Greenwood, and although it is still a county building, Bolt says it has been completely transformed, and for a price tag of under $90,000. It currently houses not only the Veterans Administration, but a veterans museum, the Hall of Heroes, the VFW, the Lander University ROTC, and a veterans court—and several veterans organizations use space in the building to meet regularly.

Next on the agenda is a three-phase plan for a Veterans Memorial Park in front of the building (concept drawing at left). The first phase—installation of an eagle statue on a granite pedestal—should be complete next year.

Other Upstate Veterans Memorials

At the Pickens County Memorial Garden, a statue of General Pickens is dedicated to the textile workers from Pickens County who served on the home front, and war dead from the Carolina Indian Wars to the Global War on Terrorism are memorialized in the garden.

Abbeville’s Veterans Memorial is located between the opera house and the county courthouse and is included on the Abbeville County Central Historical Markers Tour.

Cherokee County has a museum dedicated to veterans—the Cherokee County Veterans Museum. The Ware Shoals Veterans Memorial in their downtown square was dedicated in 2010.

In Pendleton, the Veterans Park has existed since the 1970s, and last year Friends of the Park donors secured the funds to create a Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated last year on Veterans Day. Pendleton’s memorial is separate from the Anderson County Memorial (right), which is located near the Anderson Sports Complex.

These, of course, are only a few of the area memorials. Towns and communities across the Upstate commemorate, in their own ways, their hometown men and women who have served our country in the armed forces.

Veterans Day celebrations will be held all over the upstate, including Easley, Inman, Union, and others. Check with your local Veterans Affairs office for a celebration near you.

 Photo credits: Banner: The Gaffney Ledger; top right: Cindy Fore, Union County Veterans Administration; center left: GreenwoodVetsMemorial.org; bottom right: Reprinted by permission of the Independent Mail.

Sharon Purvis is a freelance writer and editor who makes her home with her husband in Duncan, South Carolina. You can find more of her work at SharonPurvisWrites.com.