Florence veterans hope to breathe new life into monument - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Florence veterans hope to breathe new life into monument

Source (WMBF news reporter Ken Baker) Source (WMBF news reporter Ken Baker)

 FLORENCE, SC (WMBF)  There is a hidden treasure in Florence, dedicated to the men and women who served our country that is being vandalized, and to remember those men who died during World War I and protect that monument, a group of veterans is trying to get it moved into the Florence Veterans Park. Just tucked off the hustle and bustle of Florence's East Palmetto Street, sits the state's first American Legion Post.
“But we just barely made it, under the wire. If you look under the documentation on it, there are three or four posts that came in just within a day of us,” Kenneth Curran, Post Adjunct said.

This post is dedicated to helping area veterans and the community and has been here since 1919.

“We believe in helping the community and we want to see the community do well,” Don Handley, Treasurer of American Legion Post One said.
It's the monument housed behind the post, which the veterans are trying to show the community.

“This monument as you can see is isolated and remote and doesn't get a lot of visitors,” Barringer Wingard, Florence Veterans Park said.
Inscribed on that monument are the names of 67 soldiers from Florence who served during World War I.

“67 people from Florence County were killed in World War I, and of that number 25 were African American. I dare say, that not many people would guess that many people from Florence were killed and that percentage of African Americans,” Wingard said.

The monument has sat in this spot for nearly a century and the post just recently agreed to allow the monument to leave this location and be housed at the Florence Veterans Park.

“Donating it to the Florence Veterans Park will get many times more people seeing this monument,” Charles Bethea, Post one Commander said.
It weighs more than ten thousand pounds and stands approximately 15 feet tall and the base is ten feet wide.

While it has sat here since 1929, as you can imagine time has not been to kind to it, weather damage and vandals have gotten a hold of it.

“There has been some vandalism apparently and even evidence of people using it as shotgun practice in the past,” Wingard said.

The Florence Veterans Park said it gladly accepts this monument because recreating it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Already a Florence monument company has agreed to refurbish it.

But it's the costs of moving this memorial that veterans are now working on.

“We have an estimate of six to eight thousand dollars, which we will have to raise through private funds. We try not to use city taxpayer money to do things in the park the best we can,” Wingard said.

The groups hope is to move the marker into the Florence Veterans Park by Veterans Day.

These service men said getting it alongside other monuments is crucial to people understanding Florence's Rich History and the price the men who served during World War I paid.

If you would like to get involved with the Florence American Legion the group meets the 2nd Tuesday of every month except during the months of June, July and August

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