Residents in Richland County are celebrating Memorial Day both by remembering the fallen and celebrating a fundraising milestone that will help remember that county's veterans forever.
The Richland County Veterans Memorial Honor Roll Committee has spent more than a decade raising money for a memorial to list the names of fallen and living veterans of both conflict and peacetime. The project aims to display more than 8,000 names at its completion.
"We're trying to honor all veterans of Richland County," said Lynn Newkirk, secretary of the committee.
The community started raising money for the project in 2003, and began construction in 2006. The honor roll committee was just $50,000 from finishing a war on terror monument and the floor for the entire memorial. Committee members started selling flags to fill a hillside on the east side of town and found out on Memorial Day that they met their goal, selling 5,000 flags.
"As a committee we can't thank the residents enough for how they backed this project," Newkirk said. "We've been doing this for over 10 years and you just think that the project is never going to end and it's just amazing to do it on Memorial Day. What better to do than that day to honor our veterans."
The new monument will honor the county's most recent vets, including retired Master Sgt. Steve Bauer of Richland Center, who served in Iraq in 2003.
"It's just phenomenal that people are willing to come forward and support this [memorial]," said Bauer.
Bauer is humble when asked what seeing his name on the global war on terror monument will mean.
"Honestly I haven't given it a lot of thought," said Bauer. "I just think of myself as an everyday citizen. It will be an honor to have my name on there."
Now that the fundraising has been completed, construction will begin on the floor almost immediately, with hopes the entire memorial will be finished by the end of the year.