It began as a simple idea: Create a list of all the veterans of World War II, including the veterans of World War I, out of respect for their service and sacrifice to the country.
A small memorial building, with materials donated from Arketex, was erected by the American Legion on the lawn of the courthouse.
Names of all identifiable veterans were printed on wooden tiles and placed inside brightly lit wood display cases, and in 1945 the Clay Co. Honor Roll Memorial was dedicated.
During the Korean War, the memorial was turned over to the county commissioners and the names of soldiers killed in that war were placed inside. When war rose it's ugly head in Vietnam; soldiers dying in that war were added.
The small memorial, always open through the years to pay respect to the men listed inside, didn't handle the ravages of time, or a few vandalism attempts, well, and three years ago it underwent renovation using county funds.
A few details, like the neon lights surrounding the cases, still need attention.
But the biggest one for Les Walden, Clay Co. Veterans Service Officer, is updating the list of names stored within the hallowed walls.
Walden has created a computer list of veterans that goes back to the Civil War, but the list is in no way complete. "We've tried to maintain it over the years," he explained. "But it is difficult to keep track of all the records without help from veterans themselves, or their families."
A DDform214, which proves discharge from active duty, will enable a veteran, or their family, to have a soldier's military service recognized and their name placed upon the wall. The document needs to be presented at the courthouse, but if one is unavailable information can be obtained at the Veterans Office on how prove a soldiers service record.
"This is a great time to remember our veterans, but in order to do that we have to have their names," said Walden, explaining the urgent need to ask for public assistance in updating the records. "Veterans of WWII are dying at a rate of 1,500 a day. The list is not complete, and we need to remember them now, before it is too late."
With our country at war, remembering the military service and sacrifice of soldiers has become a priority to many families with so many young men and women from our community on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. But when soldiers are sent to bases around the country for training and deployment, creating of a complete record of local soldiers almost impossible without the help of the public.
Notification of an active duty soldier's name for placement on the list is as simple as name, rank, and APO address. The added benefit of this notification is that the soldier can be placed on the "Operation Link Up" list. This program enables soldiers stationed overseas to receive phone cards that can be used to call home: A great gift this holiday season for both soldier, and family.
"We were recently able to help a local soldier, A1C Jill Owen, call home with the program. But we can't help keep other families keep in touch without knowing who the soldiers are."
For information on how to help update the list, touring the Clay Co. Honor Roll Memorial or the Operation Link Up program, contact Les Walden, Veterans Office, at 448-9015 or by e-mail at email@example.com.