After years of planning and hard work, the Veterans Memorial Park of America (VMPA) held a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 26 officially opening the grounds. Randy and Angela Norris and their crew have been working diligently since 2016 to build and construct the tract of land that pays tribute to both past and present members of the seven branches of the military from the American Revolution forward.
“I’m making a challenge to each and every one of you and everyone you know. We are going to be doing a 250 Club challenge, and I need at least 3,000 people to give a minimum of $250 each for the next phase of the park,” said Norris at the ceremony.
That next phase is plans for the Veterans Community Outreach Center. The facility will a place for the board of directors and the team to host veteran meals, meetings, clinics in partnership with the Veterans Health Administrations, and stand downs with resource information for the retired military members and their families.
Once the center is built, the contributors’ names will be engraved on 21 dog tags that will be displayed on the wall at the building. Though the task may seem impossible, Norris is confident that the community will love and support the VMPA as much as she and the other volunteers do.
“You’re going to say she’s crazy again. We want to raise this money by Veterans Day of 2023,” she explained.
However, county representatives and other attendees accepted the challenge with open arms. Ten contributors already pledged the $250 and several others vowed to donate $500.
The second phase of the park is just one of many things the VMPA has planned. The Wall of Honor is still ongoing and has over 1,100 pictures of those who served. The display can be found at the Columbus County Fair each fall, and the Field of Flags still flies during Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Patriots Day, and Veterans Day.
Pictures for the Wall of Honor are still being accepted. Forms for submission can be found at https://veteransparkofamerica.com/index.php/form-for-wall-of-honor/. For questions about the Wall of Honor, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Forms for the Field of Flags can also be printed by visiting https://veteransparkofamerica.com/index.php/field-of-flags/.
Engraved bricks are still being placed around the Freedom Circle. The bricks can be ordered anytime through the park’s website at www.veteransparkofamerica.com. Once enough bricks are ordered, a bulk order will be made by the VMPA. Bricks are $100 for 4×8, $200 for 8×8, and $500 for 12×12.
The next fundraiser held by the organization will be a community yard sale. The event will take place on Saturday, July 1, starting at 7 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park of America. Spots are $10 each for a 10 x 10 tent, and hotdogs, chips, drinks, and water will be available for purchase at the fundraiser.
If you would like to donate, participate in the yard sale, volunteer, or become a sponsor for the VMPA, contact Angela Norris at 910.840.3848. The Veterans Memorial Park of America is located at 6354 James B. White Highway South in Whiteville. Meetings are held every third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Dixie Steel Guns and Ammo located at 57 Mercer Road in Chadbourn.