After years of waiting, Rock Hill's military veterans are closer to having a place to honor their fallen comrades.
The local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion chapters will join city leaders Friday to announce plans for a veterans memorial at Glencairn Garden. Though architects haven't finalized a design, organizers hope the site can be completed sometime next year.
"We've been trying to get them to do this for 25 years," said Johnnie Robinson, commander of the VFW post on West Main Street. "Most of the veterans don't even know (of the agreement). They're going to hear it Friday. They're going to be excited."
The announcement is particularly timely because most World War II veterans are in their 80s and 90s.-
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"We have very few World War II vets come into our post anymore," said Chuck Washburn, commander of the American Legion on Cherry Road. "They don't get out at night."
At post meetings, Washburn reads aloud the names of veterans of all wars who died during that month.
Lately, he has instead held a moment of silence because the list is too long. Twenty-six veterans died in October, and the tally included men who fought in Vietnam and Korea.
World War II produced an estimated 3 million veterans. Nationwide, they are dying at a rate of about 1,000 per day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A lengthy wait
Rock Hill leaders first endorsed the idea of a memorial three years ago as part of the Glencairn master plan. More recently, city representatives approached veterans about putting it on newly purchased land across from the old Red Cross office, near the creek that runs through the garden.
The price tag is undetermined, but the cost is expected to be divided among the VFW, American Legion, the city and private donors, Robinson said. The city will be in charge of landscaping and maintenance.
Tentative plans call for plaques honoring the five military branches, as well as a space big enough to accommodate Veterans and Memorial Day functions and other remembrances, such as events remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"It should've been done a long time ago, but at least we're getting something going," Washburn said. "I'm just proud to be a part of it, to honor these men and women."