By Allen Hamrick
John Quincy Adams said, “You will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use out of it.” This country has been tested on all sides by other countries ever since the beginning of our days. Hard earned freedom has given the people vitality, intelligence and integrity. We have the ability to pursue our own good in the way that we want without having to deprive anyone else of doing the same. The belief in this principle has guided us since our country’s beginning and has allowed us to prosper with innovation and discoveries and has allowed many individuals the opportunity to become whatever they wanted. Sure, it’s not always been a bed of roses, but in the end, it is up to the individual who has the freedom to do so to act, make change and decide how we respond to the issues at hand. It would be a travesty to allow our heritage to become so transparent that, as time continues, we forget those that maintained our ability to expand. We have a responsibility to remember those that lived it and carry on their progresses.
Every person has a work within themselves to carry on; they have obligations to perform, inspirations to take advantage of and resolve to be the best we can be. Most of this nation’s freedom comes, in large part, due to the efforts of so many who donned the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, and thousands of those were Clay County sons and daughters. From before the Civil War to present day Afghanistan, so many have sacrificed time, family and many their very lives to keep what they believed to be the one thing they could preserve for their homeland – freedom. They braved many firefights; the freedom for their family back home drove them to do what they did. They did their duty, and in their hearts did what was right, as many have done and are still doing. They didn’t run; they fought so that Americans from that point on would get the chance to live their dreams. We owe them so much more than just a passing moment!
Their code of honor and lifestyle of strength needs to be observed because the honor we feel in observance is due to the fact that we know that their selfless sacrifice in service to “we the people” makes it possible for us to live our lives in whatever capacity we choose. We must remember those from our county because if you do not remember their sacrifices, they will have died in vain.
The Clay County Veterans Memorial group, founded by Joe Lanham, is seeking to remember those that served by etching their names in granite to be remembered by all for all time. The new memorial, now under construction below and in front the old courthouse on Main Street, will be a beautiful memorial when finished and a true testament to the will and determination of a few people to make sure they are not forgotten. Construction began late in 2019 after a few years of fundraising to get the large project started. There were many poker runs and side-by-side ride events, along with private donations and grants that got the project underway. Many people have volunteered their time and efforts because it is a project worth doing and doing right. This memorial will be a sight for tired eyes and places to come and reflect on the freedom you have been given. Those names etched into the granite will be remembered forever thanks to the Clay County Veterans Memorial group.
If you want to keep informed on their progress, you can go to Clay County Veterans Memorial on Facebook or go to clayvet.weebly.com and check out the photos. Also on the site are forms you can access to donate money, or you can simply walk into the Clay County Bank to donate as well. There will also be bricks available for purchase if you have a veteran you would like to have remembered; the applications are online as well as the courthouse. If you would like to get more information, you can contact Joe Lanham at 304-587-7874.
The Clay County Bank has proven once again that they are truly a home town bank that cares about this county and its history. Clay County Bank president Greg Gency presented the Clay County Veterans Memorial fund a check for $5,000 to go towards finishing the memorial. They are indeed a hometown bank.
I think Shakespeare said it wisely, “Be stirring as the time, be fire with fire, threaten the threatener and outface the brow of bragging horror; so shall inferior eyes that borrow their behaviors from the great grow great by your example and put on the dauntless spirit of resolution.” Those who have served didn’t do so in vain and will now be remembered forever thanks to the Clay County Veterans Memorial group and those that have contributed to the cause.