Group wants to expand veterans’ memorial in Silverhill

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/22/18

SILVERHILL, Alabama — Some time ago, a group of residents set out on a quest to honor veterans with a War Memorial in Silverhill. But they don’t want to stop there.

“We want to individually …

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Group wants to expand veterans’ memorial in Silverhill

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SILVERHILL, Alabama — Some time ago, a group of residents set out on a quest to honor veterans with a War Memorial in Silverhill. But they don’t want to stop there.

“We want to individually honor every veteran who served from this area,” said longtime resident and former Silverhill mayor Frankie Kucera.

To do that the group, called the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization, a non-profit company, plans to add two 4-foot by 8-foot stones next to the Silverhill Veterans War Memorial, which was dedicated in March of 2017, located in Paul Anderson Park, across from Town Hall at the corner of Alabama 104 and County Road 55 in Silverhill.

Names of veterans from World War II to the present will be placed on both sides of the memorial.

“From Silverhill Cemetery records, we have about 400 names already,” Kucera said. “We want to include all veterans and we welcome anyone to contact us with the name of a veteran they want included in the memorial.

The group is asking for the last name, first and middle initials of the veteran, along with branch of service. Those killed in action would be designated by a star next to their name, and designations could also be added for those Missing In Action (MIA) and Prisoner of War (POW).

The initial cost of the project will be about $30,000, Kucera said. To add names to the memorial would cost about $50 to have the name cut into the stone. Veterans and their families from other areas are welcome to have their names added to the memorial for a minimum donation.

In an interview from 2017, Kucera said he remembered when he was a boy that a memorial built on that very spot by one of the Boy Scouts and dedicated to all of those from Silverhill who served during World War II.

Kucera said he remembered the memorial being white with black lettering, made of wood and included the names of all the soldiers from Silverhill who served during the war. For the soldiers who died serving in the war, Kucera said, there was a gold star by their names.

“By the time my dad became mayor in the 1960s, the memorial was gone,” he said. “I don’t know what happened to it and can’t find any photos of it, but when I served as mayor, I had several people ask me whatever happened to it and is there any way we can get another one put there.”

For several years, the Gear Jammers Car Club, of which Kucera is a founding member and past president, has been hosting its annual Silverhill Car Show on Memorial Day weekend.

Started as a fundraiser for the Oscar Johnson Memorial Library in Silverhill, fundraising focus of the event shifted in 2011 after a tornado caused extensive damage to the town’s Little Bohemian Hall. The event has also served as a fundraiser for Catholic Social Services, Project C.A.R.E. Food Pantry and Silverhill Boy Scout Troop 42.

After work on the Little Hall was completed in December of 2014 with dedication ceremonies held in January of 2015, focus of the car show shifted to raising funds for the war memorial.

“Through the car show and through other generous donations, we were able to secure the funds to have the memorial built this year,” Kucera said. “We wanted something that would honor all veterans from all branches of the military in all wars and I believe that this does that.”

The towering structure made of polished black granite with etched artwork on both sides was designed by Paul Morris of PM Printing in Summerdale, along with metal “stationary flags” depicting all branches of the military.

The flagpoles were donated by Woodman Life Insurance Co. The concrete work was donated by a veteran, Chris Traughber and the landscaping and finishing work was done by town employees, acting Superintendent of Utilities Scottie Smith, Tommy Moss, Jamie Morton and Justin Matthews.

“We want this to be an uplifting thing that everyone can come and enjoy,” Kucera said, “not just for the veterans from Silverhill, but all veterans everywhere.”

Plans are to have the additions completed by Veterans Day next year. Kucera said he wanted to thank the Organization for their dedication to the project, including fellow officers Lamar Giles, Oleta Schoolcraft and Shirley Stephens.

Funds will continue to be raised through the annual Car Show, which is held every year on Memorial Day weekend, generally the last Saturday in May. Services to honor veterans are also planned on Memorial Day and Veterans Day each year.

If you would like to donate to the project you can mail your contribution to the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization Inc., P.O. Box 94, Silverhill, AL 36576. You can also donate through the group’s Go Fund Me account online and through the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization page on Facebook.