The Caswell County Veterans Memorial is made of black granite, eight inches thick. The names of soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the War on Terror, as well as Prisoners of War are permanently etched in the stone. Six porcelain plaques representing each branch of the military are prominently featured along the base.
On July 7, 2020, we broke ground on this memorial, but the vision began many years earlier. In December 2013, Sallie Smith and I were approached by Mayor Curtis Davis and offered a prominent parcel of land in downtown Yanceyville on which to build a memorial. This new landmark was to be located at the corner of North Avenue and Church Street, which is within sight of both the old and new courthouses.
In February 2014, Bill Carroll (USAF Vietnam Veteran) and I met with Davis Newman and Lawrence McFall. They are the main individuals credited with building the Veterans Memorial in Danville, Va. During the entire process we kept the Town of Yanceyville updated on the progress.
After this meeting, the project was on hold until the fall of 2015 when we added Jerry Hovatter (another USAF Vietnam Veteran) to help with the continuation. We began putting together the other committee members. The Caswell County VFW Post 7316 and American Legion Posts 89, 210, and 447 were asked to appoint at least two members each.
Volunteers were invited to be a part of the committee with the main qualification being a “serious commitment” to the project. Through the process, a total of 22 members served, with 17 being actively involved all the way to completion.
Our first official meeting was in March of 2016, and we met every fourth Wednesday thereafter. We also had regular meetings of subcommittees such as design, research, and fundraising.
With the help of Alley, Williams, Carmen, and King of Burlington, the design committee drew up the design of the memorial. This committee consisted of Landon Wyatt, Jerry Hovatter, Ruby Hovatter, and me. We worked with South Boston Memorials on the dimensions and cost of the black granite and the base of the memorial. Quality Construction of Danville was chosen to be our contractor, with Tony Smith as the project manager.
Our kick-off fundraising event was held at the Civic Center in May of 2017. We set a goal of $175,000; since then, we have raised that and more. The people of Caswell County really got behind this project. We now have money in the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region for the Town of Yanceyville to keep up the memorial in perpetuity. I feel that it is important to point out that no tax dollars were used in this project; all the money was raised with the help of people that believe in this project. Thank you, Caswell County!
Our fundraising efforts were creative. We sold shirts, hats, and food. There were matching challenges and donations. For donations of $100 or more, the donor’s name was etched onto a bronze plaque, located on the porch of the municipal building. There are categories of bronze, silver, and gold donors. The plaque also has a list of all the committee members.
Our research committee had the most important task; mistakes were not an option. Elin Claggett and Sallie Smith were our main researchers. Many painstaking hours were spent ensuring that the 70 names on the memorial were correct. As a full committee, we walked most of the cemeteries in the county.
On Nov. 7, 2020, the Caswell County Veterans Memorial was completed, four months to the day after ground was broken. Many details had to fall into place for this vision to become a reality. Right from the day we broke ground, Quality Construction and several veterans were there almost every day to pitch in. The Town of Yanceyville was a great asset, as were many others such as Lonnie Bowes for the electrical, Carver Brothers Turf, the concrete and brick-laying people, and Todd Neese of Burlington for the beautiful flagpoles and flags. Numerous people helped and we are grateful to all of them.
Nov. 11, 2020 – Veterans Day – was chosen for the dedication. This was nearly seven years after the initial idea was born. The weather was bad with rain and wind, but about 200 people still attended. This respectable turnout was a testament to our dedicated committee over the course of this project. It is also important to point out that this memorial would never have happened without the wonderful people of Caswell County. But the biggest thanks are saved for the 70 souls listed on the eight inch-thick black granite located at the corner of North Avenue and Church Street in Yanceyville, NC.