BUCKHANNON – The Veterans Memorial Wall in Rock Cave has undergone an upgrade.
The community held a re-dedication ceremony Oct. 2 to unveil the new memorial. Southern Upshur Business Association vice president Kevin Campbell said they decided to revamp the wall after the previous one started to degrade.
“The original memorial had a concrete block wall, and then on the face of that was a brick veneer. All the bricks were laser etched, and in theory, it was a good thing to do,” Campbell said. “But they wanted to keep it expandable and they didn’t properly cover the void between the wall and the brick, so over time, water got in there and froze and hydraulically fractured the wall.”
Eventually the bricks displaying the names of the veterans began falling out and crumbling away. Instead of a quick fix, SUBA decided to entirely revamp the memorial.
“We came up with this plan to replace the brick and mortar wall with some some granite obelisks, where we could put names on all four sides of each obelisk,” Campbell said. “The cost to do that — without any charge to the people who had already contributed — ended up being about $25,000. That seemed like an insurmountable goal when we started, but a lot of people contributed a lot of time and effort to raise that money.”
Last year, SUBA honored Clyde Campbell for raising over $10,000 by selling his homemade turkey calls.
“Once a year, we will add names to [the memorial],” Campbell said. “Each section is a different branch of service, so they’ll be added to the appropriate branch as needed.”
He said in addition to the new wall, SUBA is working with the director of the Upshur County Public Library, Paul Norko, and local resident Amanda Hayes to compile a database with more information about the people on the wall.
“The original wall, on your brick, you could have names, dates of service, a lot more information was available than now on the granite,” Campbell said. “We have that database of information from the old bricks, so that’s being being put in a file at the library that can be accessed online so you can look up the additional information on your loved one if you’re visiting the wall.”
They hope the program will be expanded to include everyone in Upshur County cemeteries.
“That program wants to be expanded so that all of the information on everybody in all the Upshur County cemeteries can be added to that database, because of generational tourism. People come in and they look up their ancestors, and then the next thing they want to do is they want to go see the grave site, or maybe go to an old address and see what’s there now,” Campbell said. “But at the top of the list is always visiting the grave sites, and we do not have good mapping of who’s buried where in Upshur County.”