Celebrate Veterans Day by supporting Veterans Park in Columbus

Published 11:14 am Friday, November 10, 2017

COLUMBUS – Down a quiet side street in Columbus, next to the House of Flags, is a small park that brings bittersweet memories. In the park honoring America’s veterans, stands a fountain, flags from America’s armed forces, picnic tables and bricks showing the names of those who served.

The American Legion and the VFW Post 9116 are working to spruce up and improve the park for Veterans Day, but need help. With the addition of a Vietnam War monument installed on Nov. 4, the Legion is looking for funds to create similar monuments to honor veterans of other wars.

American Legion District Four Adjutant and Commander Bevin Corbin said the new Vietnam monument stone was the idea of Wyatt Derkach who took on the project for his Boy Scout Eagle badge. Derkach raised the money and worked with Clayton’s Monument Service in Landrum to create a small stone about three feet high and one foot wide. The monument has a beautiful etching of a Vietnam soldier.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Corbin said the Legion is hoping Derkach’s brother, Jack, will be interested in creating a similar monument representing another war for his Eagle Scout badge.

“We decided to do four more monuments,” said Corbin. “One each for WWI, WWII, Korea and the Gulf War.”

In addition to the monuments, Corbin said the American Legion has budgeted $1,800 to remove the old mulch that has been under and around the bushes and trees for the last 14 years or so. They have already replaced the mulch in the area around the flagpoles and picnic tables with small, white gravel. The Legion added some weed stop and low plastic edging to contain the gravel. They are hoping to continue with the white gravel around some trees as well.

“We did this so it will be more easily maintained and look good year round,” Corbin said. 

In addition to the white gravel, the park has some drainage issues that need to be addressed and they need to put some new sod down. They are also working to replace some of the lighting and add new light poles.

Another project that needs work right away is repairing and re-grouting the edge of the brick wall around the fountain. Water has seeped down between the bricks etched with soldiers’ names and the edge of the wall, creating a small, but growing crack. Corbin explained that, as the wall ages, the water freezes and pushes the edge away.

Future improvements for the park include extending the sidewalk from the fountain to the new war monuments, which will be located in the gravel area near the picnic tables. “That way it’s accessible by wheel chair,” Corbin said. “People can buy bricks for that sidewalk as well.”

Corbin explained that although the Legion and the VFW Post 9116 set aside some funds to help with maintenance and improvements for the park, it will cost a lot more to create the new monuments and the sidewalk. While the bricks help some, other donations are needed and appreciated. Bricks can be purchased and donations made through the Town of Columbus, the American Legion District 24 and the VFW Post 9116.

The Town of Columbus is able to help some with the maintenance of the park. However, the Legion and VFW depend on volunteers, primarily from the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, to help. Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill talked with Corbin about getting some sheriff’s deputies to help out this Friday morning with clearing away fallen leaves and other debris in anticipation of Veterans Day ceremonies on Saturday.