Cornelius Veteran’s monument opens to fanfare
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – On the clear, crisp Veteran’s Day morning, hundreds of people from around the area gathered around Cornelius Town Hall to show their gratitude and support for all U.S. military personnel with the unveiling of the town’s Veteran’s Monument at Rotary Plaza.
The day was marked by speeches from N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, as well as from Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte, and others who helped the dream of constructing a veteran’s monument become a reality. The celebration featured a 21-gun salute by American Legion Post 86, a playing of taps to remember all those who have died while fighting, as well as a flyover from a World War II era P-47 plane.
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave,” said Tillis, speaking before the large crowd. “This monument shows that Cornelius is the home of the brave.”
Hundreds of veterans were on hand to witness the opening of the monument, many wearing medals and at times standing at attention in their uniforms to honor those who had fought for the country.
The monument has shiny black granite walls filled with 1,119 names of all Cornelius residents who have ever served. The monument is also marked by six pillars – five representing the branches of the United States Military, and the remaining pillar representing the Merchant Marines.
A special plaque, honoring Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and Cornelius resident Jerry Crump sits in the wall below the platform for the monument’s flagpole.
Among the speakers at event, Cornelius Commissioner Chuck Travis and Tarte, were quick to point out that the monument standing before the crowd may not have come to fruition had it not been for the late former Cornelius Mayor Harold Little who died on June 29.
Little served as Cornelius Mayor from 1985 to 1993 and was also on numerous boards and committees in town. Little was a World War II veteran, and served aboard the destroyer U.S.S. John Rodgers in the Pacific Theater and remained active in American Legion Post 86.
According to Travis, Little was the driving force in bringing a veteran’s monument to Cornelius.
“We are here today because of a dream a veteran had two years ago,” Travis said. “He is not here today but he is here in spirit.”
Aside from the fanfare and speeches, there was ample time for veterans and their families to reflect on the names engraved on the wall.
Navy Veteran and Cornelius resident Michael Fox was moved by how many people were out in support of the town’s veterans.
“I think it’s great the town came out and banded together to support this,” Fox said.
Fox served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and was on active duty from 1966 to 1968.
Fox was particularly happy with the monument’s attention to detail.
“I think they’ve got all their bases covered,” said Fox.
Cornelius resident and U.S. Army veteran, Tom Brown, said the monument means a lot to him but thinks it’s more of an honor to combat veterans like his father.
Brown’s father was a Navy pilot shot down over Japan and was a prisoner of war in the infamous Ofuna interrogation center.
“It’s for the combat veterans and for those who are gone,” Brown said as he looked up at Prisoner of War/Missing In Action flag while talking of his father’s sacrifice.
“That’s what this monument means to me.”