HARRISON – When Lori Phelps, county administrator, approached Karl Hauser, Clare County Veterans Services director, back in January with the simple question of whether something could be done to improve the existing honor wall in the building’s main lobby, that project quickly took wing. The goal was to refurbish the former wall in a way that would be more organized and provide more inclusive photo space.
At a special unveiling ceremony held Tuesday, May 9 at the Clare County Building, local veterans who have served this country found a new, organized, respectful place of honor on that wall. Hauser explained that the original Honor Wall had been in place for at least 15 years and was comprised of a 7x4-foot painting of an eagle and American Flag with photos tacked to it. That painting was moved to the Veterans Services hallway to make room for properly displaying photos on the new Honor Wall.
Allisha Gary, Veterans Service officer, took on the task of scanning the existing photos, making them a standard size, cleaning them up, and then putting the service seals on them. The new three-panel display installation includes a lot of 4x6-inch photos – more than 60 of them – which are limited to local veterans.
“What we looked for was veterans who graduated from high school in Clare County,” Hauser said. “Not folks who went [to school] someplace else and settled here.”
He added that between social media, emails and word-of-mouth, enough photos were secured to fill the space, plus more which will enable expansion in the future.
An additional frame next to the big frame is also set up with photos of veterans who work for Clare County but aren’t necessarily from this county. To prevent potential UV damage to the photos, Hauser procured a vendor to install a reflective coating film on the lobby’s south-facing windows.
Additionally, there is a roped-off static display of the POW/MIA [prisoner of war/missing in action] table with its elements: a white tablecloth symbolizing a soldier’s pure heart; a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate (showing a captive’s bitter fate and the tears of families waiting for loved ones to return); the empty chair for soldiers who are not here; black napkins for the sorrow of captivity; an overturned glass for the meal that will not be eaten; a white candle for peace; and red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon for the hope that all the missing will return one day.
The table also includes a laurel wreath, an evergreen sprig, and flowers representing the stripes/colors of the American Flag: Red flowers symbolizing courage and gallantry; White flowers reminding of comrades’ unselfish devotion to duty; and Blue flowers symbolizing the great love military comrades have for the flag and country. The evergreen tribute symbolizes life everlasting and the undying love for missing and imprisoned comrades. The laurel wreath symbolizing victory over death for those who have made the supreme sacrifices – a last token of affection for missing comrades who have gone to their final reward.
A separate wall area behind the POW/MIA table, is dedicated to KIAs [killed in action], to include not only the current era veterans, but also Vietnam KIAs. To commemorate Korea and World War II veterans there is simply a list of names, as photos for those could not be obtained.
Hauser said it has been several months of work and included just a bit of money from the county to “buy pieces and parts” as things were being put together. He said he would be surprised if the total cost reached $1,500 – which included some framing materials, photo rails and labor, the new Clare County Veterans sign and the POW/MIA table kit.
He also had the “before” photo enlarged to a 16x20-inch for display so that attendees could see all the changes and expansion that had been done.
This has been a huge undertaking, and now nearly the entire east wall of the lobby is dedicated to honoring the veterans of Clare County – in a respectful, quality way.
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