Veterans Day is Thursday, Nov. 11, and the memorial placed along Duncan Bypass continues to grow with each passing year.
The annual Veterans Day memorial was assembled Monday morning by I.G. Vanderford, Union County Detention Center employee Nathan Burdine and several SCDC inmates. It is meant as a remembrance of Union County military members who lost their lives during combat.
Nearly 200 white crosses are standing, each bearing the name of a Union County military member who made the ultimate sacrifice during conflicts. Among the crosses is a silhouette of a kneeling soldier with the American flag which was cut and painted by Bobby Hall – member of Buffalo American Legion Post 87.
New additions to the roadside memorial also were made this year.
Four flags – representing the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines – were donated by retired National Guardsman Ronnie Lee-- and are flying on either side of the American flag. The four flagpoles were donated by Ace Hardware owner Louis Jordan.
Wreaths and flowers also decorate the memorial, along with a pair of boots filled with red, white and blue flowers. According to Burdine, the boots were left there anonymously during the week of Memorial Day and volunteers wanted them to become part of the custom.
The tradition was started nearly 20 years ago when Vanderford saw a similar memorial in Statesboro, Ga., while visiting for a wedding.
Vanderford asked a Statesboro police officer about the memorial with the intention of creating a similar remembrance in his home county.
“I brought a Statesboro newspaper back to Pete Berry and he agreed to cut the crosses out of wood and print the names of the soldiers on them,” Vanderford said. “Each cross has the name of a soldier from Union County who was killed in action.”
After years of wear and tear from being driven in the ground every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, the crosses were eventually remade out of metal but they still can be seen by anyone driving along Duncan Bypass during both times of year as a salute and remembrance of those brave men and women who have fought and died for this nation.