An effort is underway to establish a memorial park in Swansboro for veterans. And why not? According to Lt. Col. Dave Brown, USMC-retired, our immediate area is home to thousands of active duty and retired Marines, sailors and soldiers.
He envisions a quiet place that features a monument that would stir feelings of patriotism; a place where old and young – their spouses, children and grandchildren – could sit and be respectful of service to the country. Memorial services can be held there as well.
For Brown, a Vietnam-era veteran, and others like him, the quiet place would provide an opportunity to set aside the problems of today for a chance to think back on those with whom he served – and who are serving – and possibly share those reminisces.
“The veterans need a place to gather and reflect,” he said.
Brown, a Swansboro resident who is chairman of the Swansboro Area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, said the idea for a local veterans park was brought to him about two years ago by Mayor John Davis.
Since then, the idea has been in planning by the newly-established, nonprofit corporation. And that group has been busy, thanks to Brown.
“I’m not going to sit around,” he said. “We have town leadership on our side. We are proceeding.”
The first order of business, once the steering task force was in place, was to locate and settle on a site.
“We looked at the new park in Cedar Point,” Brown said, referring to the waterfront site off Masonic Home Road. “It really is breathtaking. But, we resolved, we really want to be in Swansboro.”
The town, he reasoned, is well positioned to be a the central location of what he refers to as the “five communities” around Swansboro: Emerald Isle, Cedar Point, Cape Carteret, Peletier and Hubert.
“It is the epicenter,” Brown said of Swansboro. “We have the high school, the churches are here, the eating establishments. We are a community.” And, he added, “This will be a good thing for the community.”
Next Brown enlisted the help of the architectural technology students at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville to design a monument, and student Jeannette Quinn-Davis came through with an impressive prototype.
Her proposed model, eight triangular granite pillars that together form a U.S. Flag, earned a $500 scholarship to further her education at East Carolina University. That scholarship indicated the kind of grassroots support the project was gaining, according to Brown. “Beryl Packer of Molly Maids donated the $500,” he said.
The monument will be 10 feet tall and 19 feet wide, and would fit nicely on a half-acre site the task force has identified on Main Street Extension. That lot, adjacent to Swansboro Municipal Park, is undeveloped property currently on the market and is at the top of the desired list for the veterans’ park site. The task force is also looking at other properties near N.C. 24. “Anywhere along or near the 24 corridor would be great,” Brown said.
The site, though, is still not settled. And that is something Brown must explain as he goes about the task of identifying and meeting potential donors.
“People ask, ‘Where are you going to put it?’ I don’t have an answer,” he said.
But, Brown said, that has not posed a problem in keeping the project moving forward. Donors are lining up.
“It’ll cost about $350,000 without the land,” he said. “I don’t anticipate a lot of difficulty in raising that. This is very affordable.”
And, when the money is raised and the work is done, the community will be richer.
“There will be nothing comparable to this in our area,” Brown said. Interested residents are welcome to join the task force. Contact Dave Brown by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Jimmy Williams at email@example.com.
For more on this story purchase a copy of the April 28, 2021, Tideland News.