|Stone wants veterans memorial at library
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
Mt. Sterling’s Greg Stone wants the Montgomery County Public Library to become what he has been told would be the first of its kind in the nation to provide a memorial to all current and former military veterans from the community.
“This is about never having a veteran left behind again,” Stone told the Advocate.
Stone has approached the library board about allowing him to place a memorial there. It is currently under consideration.
“We think it’s an interesting idea,” board chair John Wenz said.
Wenz said the board would like more information on the plan and potential costs before moving forward.
Stone was inspired to pursue a memorial to all local veterans after he decided he wanted to do something in memory of his late uncle, Ronnie Stone, who was killed in a plane crash in 1949 while delivering supplies during the Berlin Airlift.
Rather than erecting a memorial just for his uncle, Stone said it was suggested to him to remember all local vets with a memorial instead.
Currently, there are war memorials at the Montgomery County Courthouse recognizing the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in battle.
Stone said he felt it is important to remember the others who have served as well.
In addition to those who died in the nation’s wars, Stone said, there are other veterans who served their country and returned to serve their communities who deserve recognition, such as the late Harold Wilson and Tony Clayton.
There are also living vets who did the same, such as Wenz and Reid Evans, to name a few, he added.
“These veterans come back and do great things for our community and this would be a chance for us to give back,” Stone said.
Such a memorial would also allow the community to remember the contributions of its female vets, who currently receive little recognition, he said.
“We honor our veterans maybe once or twice a year, at the library you can honor them every day,” Stone said. “That was the reasoning for that.”
Stone estimates that there are approximately 1,100 deceased vets and an untold number still living today.
Stone said the memorial would first recognize those who lost their lives and others would be added over time.
Stone came up with the idea to erect a memorial for all local vets in 2007 and began soliciting money for it. He said he has been promised money for the project by many individuals and has set up an account in his uncle’s name at Whitaker Bank, where donations can be made. He is also pursuing tax exempt status.
Stone acknowledges that it won’t be possible without the full support of the community.
With the new library finished recently, Stone said he thought it would be a perfect place to memorialize those who served.
Stone has presented the library board with three options for a memorial. One would involve placing the names on a wall near the entrance at the library. The second option would be to put a memorial on land where a playground will be located. The final option would be to obtain a small amount of land from the library and place a memorial there with the understanding that Stone would maintain that property (mowing, etc.).
Regardless of what the board decides, Stone said there will be no hard feelings on his part. He admits he would be disappointed, but he will support the board whatever the outcome.
“I respect their decision,” he said.
Should they turn him down, Stone said he will pursue alterative plans until he finds a way to get it done.
“I’m passionate about what I’m trying to do,” he said.