Barren County Fiscal Court agreed Tuesday to add $400 to its prior contribution of $100 for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial.
The planned memorial features a granite block carved in the shape of Kentucky, and on it will be inscribed the names of all National Guard soldiers who died in the line of duty. A full-size statue of Daniel Boone will stand in front of the monument, and at the base of it all will be a circular area where 8- by 8-inch brick pavers will display names of contributors. The site is along U.S. 127 at Minuteman Parkway in Frankfort.
Retired National Guard Col. James Drake, who said he has been a member of the memorial board since its inception, made a plea to the fiscal court members at their regular meeting this week.
He said they started working on the idea in 2008, but the economy made it the wrong time to start raising money.
“But we have persevered,” Drake said. “I think we’ve been pretty lucky through the lean years, and now we’ve got a pretty good head of steam. Last year we raised over $269,000. That was our best year. And it seems to be building to the point where we’ve set a date to dig the first shovel full of dirt – well, the final phase. We’ve already got the pad done. … We’ll start construction on Memorial Day this year, and we’ll dedicate it on Veterans Day. So we’d ask that y’all get behind us and help where you can.”
He provided a paper copy of a PowerPoint presentation and other information about the project in folders to the fiscal court members but said he wouldn’t take their time going through all of it with them.
He held up a page with an artist’s rendering of the memorial and explained the main features.
“Ideally, that’s what we’d like Barren County to do is to buy a paver,” Drake said.
The cost of each paver is $500 for the name of the county and whatever else the county wants on it as long as it fits.
He noted the county has already contributed $100. That check was provided in June, County Treasurer Denise Riddle later confirmed.
“I’m just asking for another $400. I know money’s tight,” Drake said, and then he appealed to their sense of patriotism.
“I thought it was appropriate when I walked up here [that] on your wall out there are the fallen military members from Barren County. You also, in your rich tradition of military support to the nation and the state, you’ve got several plaques on the courthouse showing that you’re very, very patriotic. The memorial wall over at park on the upper side of the courthouse is extremely unique. That’s just a fantastic tribute. Even out at the airport, there’s a room dedicated to fallen aviators,” Drake said.
“So it’s just one more step where Barren County can show how much they care about their fallen members, and it’s not duplicate. Vincent Simon is on your wall out here; he was a second lieutenant in the Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd, and he got killed in a jeep accident at Fort Knox. And other than this memorial, except you remembering on that wall, there’s no real place for fallen members like that. If they die in combat, there’s always been a place.”
The memorial in Frankfort would cover the gap of soldiers who have died in the line of duty with the Kentucky National Guard, regardless of whether it was in combat, he said.
Fundraising efforts have included three motorcycle rides, three golf tournaments, and so far the first of three planned concerts, with this one featuring Exile and Delbert McClinton at the convention center in Frankfort, Drake said.
Counties that contribute are also being asked to send a quart of dirt from the county to be placed under the paver as symbol of the county’s being there, he said.
“We’re seeking funds to create a sacred space to honor the fallen. We swear to leave no one behind on the battlefield, and we shouldn’t leave any memory behind just because their mission is over,” Drake said.
District 6 Magistrate Chris Steward made the motion to make the requested donation, and District 1 Magistrate John Benningfield seconded it.
“Judge, I’m not one to spend the taxpayers’ money on a donation for anything, but I will make a personal donation. … And I’m going to vote ‘no,’” said District 3 Magistrate Carl Dickerson.
“I will match, personally, whatever Barren County donates,” said Steward. “Colonel, contact me.”
Drake agreed to do so, and Steward quickly clarified: “Up to $400.”
Laughter ensued, as jokes were made about potentially amending the motion and how Drake should have requested more at the start.
Ultimately, Dickerson was the only one who voted against the donation, but Drake said after the meeting that Dickerson and District 2 Magistrate Rickey Spillman had each given him a contribution of $100. Spillman later said his father was an Army veteran of World War II.
According to the information Drake included in the folder, at least 466 potential names have been discovered that may be included, and 148 have been confirmed for inclusion. These are Kentucky National Guard members who died while in the line of duty from March 19, 1912 to present. One person, 2nd Lt. Vincent Simon, has been confirmed from Barren County.
The total project estimate is $1.3 million, of which $651,104 was still needed as of Jan. 17, but that figure did not include the Exile-Delbert McClinton concert, Drake said. Several more fundraisers are scheduled for this year, including an April 19 concert with Black Stone Cherry and The Kentucky Headhunters.
2nd Lt. Vincent Simon, 30, of Glasgow, Barren County, died Sept. 15, 1984, at Fort Knox, Ky., in the line of duty while on inactive duty for training (IDT). He was a member of Battery C, 1-623rd Field Artillery based in Monticello. He died from injuries he received when the military vehicle, an M-151 1/4 ton “Jeep” he was operating was involved in an accident.
He was a graduate of Western Kentucky University and was a civil engineer in his civilian life with J.N. Gray Construction Co. in Glasgow.
He joined the U.S. Army in 1972 after high school and rose to the rank of Specialist 5 before leaving the Army and joining the Kentucky Army National Guard in December 1975. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant. He graduated the Boone Raiders course in 1983 and graduated from the Kentucky Military Academy’s Officer Candidate School. He was commissioned a second lieutenant on July 8, 1984, just a few weeks before his death. His awards and decorations include: National Defense Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development with 3 device; Army Service Ribbon; Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal; Kentucky Commendation Medal and Kentucky Service Medal.
– This biographical information provided courtesy of the Kentucky National Guard Memorial board of directors.
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