The Betsy Layne Disabled American Veterans Chapter 169, under the direction of their former chapter commander, Larry Roberts, is placing a 70 foot flagpole and stone monument to recognize the veterans who served in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and the Marines.
"When I was chapter commander, we were doing a military funeral over here and we were waiting on the funeral home to get here," Roberts, acting now as the State Commander, said. "I was just sitting here and I thought about just how many people here, veterans, who don't have flags put on their tombstones for Veterans Day or Memorial Day. I thought it would be good to have a flagpole set to remember those veterans, and those who'll be here in the future."
The idea bloomed into realization when Chapter 169 found support from local community members and organizations. Community support for the project has been astounding, veterans said. The Floyd County Fiscal Court, WPRG Radio and various individuals pulled together to support and raise funds for the $11,000 project. Samuel Hatcher, local historian, donated the land for the pole at the cemetery, which belongs to the heirs of his great-great-grandfather, S.P. Davidson, a World War I vet. Morris Hilton organized a golf tournament, raising $2,500 for the DAV Chapter. James Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Construction, is donating construction for the site. Paul Hughes, owner of Davidson Memorial Gardens, will pay the electric bill to illuminate the flag each night.
It is estimated that more than 1,000 veterans from World War I, World War II, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, Korea and Vietnam are buried at Davidson Memorial Gardens. Chapter Commander Shuller Hurd said yesterday a manual count of the headstones would be required to determine just how many vets are buried there.
Speakers tossed accolades to the veterans during the ceremony, thanking them for their service to America and the freedoms made possible through their sacrifice and hard work.
Assistant Judge-Executive Bret Davis and Judge-Executive Paul Hunt Thompson, a lifetime member of DAV Chapter 18, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Marine Corps League, both extended heartfelt thank yous.
"The ability to be able to drive up here, the ability to drive to Lexington, or the ability to do everything we take for granted - we have because of our veterans," Thompson said.
The desire to head the project stems from the DAV's dedication to American veterans, Hurd said.
"We honor the dead by serving the living," Hurd said. "Our soul purpose is to make life better for the veterans and their decendants and all of our energy goes directly to that."
DAV member Orville Sword, 80, who still carries the scars he received while serving during World War II, says the effort is more than worth it.
"I can't hardly explain it in words," he said.
The site will be officially dedicated on Veterans Day this November.