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Hero deserves a place in Chester, no matter where she was from

CHESTER -- This is a column with no villains.

It's just a disagreement about where a lady who died for her country should be remembered, forever.

Zandra Worthy-Walker was born in Union. She joined the Army after high school in Greenville and starting college in Orangeburg. But in between birth and Greenville, this lady lived and went to school in Chester County. Worthy-Walker, 28, was killed in action in Iraq in August.

She deserves to have her name on the Chester County war memorial monument for the men and women who have died in war.

But the five people who decide if names are inscribed said no. Here's why:

The Chester rules, in place since monuments to previous wars were put up decades ago, require the soldier's Army "emergency data" home be Chester County, said Judy McWaters, Chester County veterans service director. Worthy-Walker's official home was Greenville, McWaters said.

McWaters and representatives from Chester County's American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and Marine Corps League met Tuesday and made the decision. Nathan Witt, one of the five, is commander of the Chester DAV and quartermaster of the VFW. Witt said he appreciates Worthy-Walker's service to country and family history in Chester County, but "we do have guidelines." Witt said he does not take Worthy-Walker's death and sacrifice to country lightly.

Charlton Blanks, representing the VFW and one of the five who decided against inscription in Chester County, said Worthy-Walker's name should go up somewhere because Worthy-Walker is "a hero." But under a strict interpretation of the rules, Worthy-Walker's home was Greenville County and she is buried in York County, Blanks said. Blanks said he would continue to look at the situation about the monument.

Those five people who decided not to add Worthy-Walker's name have honorably served in the military and continue to serve veterans causes. To disagree is not to diminish what they have done, or do.

But this is a time where rules should be broken.

In southwestern York County, just a few hundred feet from the Chester County line, Worthy-Walker is buried at Mount Hopewell Baptist Church, where she worshipped her whole life. But other than church, her area connection is mainly Chester County.

Even if Greenville County was Worthy-Walker's last home, and Greenville decides to add her name to its monument, Chester should add her, too.

These guidelines are not state laws. Veterans in counties usually handle monuments, not the state, said David Guyton, a Rock Hill lawyer, Marine Corps Desert Storm veteran and Army National Guard colonel who serves on York County's veterans council that decides if names are inscribed on the York County monument.

In York County, similar situations came up in recent years with the Iraq deaths of Army soldier Paul Neff and Marine Kenneth James Butler.

Neff left Fort Mill for the service after high school. Butler moved from Rock Hill to North Carolina in grade school. Both names were added to the York County monument, after discussion and unanimous votes of the veterans council, because it was the right thing to do, said Guyton and Joe Medlin, a Panama invasion and Iraq War veteran, acting sergeant major for the National Guard's area Combat Engineers and veterans council member.

Neff and Butler lived for years in York County, so they needed to be honored in York County, Medlin and Guyton said.

"We should do all we can to honor these soldiers," Medlin said.

People from Worthy-Walker's family from Chester County have volunteered for the military since World War I. Her late grandfather, Carlton Jeter, from Chester County all his life, was a prisoner of war in Korea. Most importantly, Worthy-Walker lived in Chester County for years.

The decision not to inscribe her name surprised Billy Powell, former chairman of the Chester County elections commission who knew Worthy-Walker all her life.

"I thought I would go downtown and read her name in the very near future," said Powell.

Frances Jeter, Carlton Jeter's widow and Worthy-Walker's grandmother, still lives in Chester County. I called her Wednesday and asked if she heard anything about the monument decision. She said no.

Then I asked her if her granddaughter's name should be up on that monument.

"It sure would be nice," Frances Jeter said.

Yes, it would.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you agree with columnist Andrew Dys that Zandra Worthy-Walker's name should be inscribed on the Chester County war memorial monument?

Or do you think that because she moved to Greenville after childhood and is buried in York County, her name shouldn't be inscribed in Chester County?

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