Group to expand veterans’ memorial in Silverhill


SILVERHILL, Alabama — A group of residents in Silverhill now have enough funds to expand the Veterans War Memorial, it was announced during a Memorial Day ceremony held Monday, May 27.

“We have enough money to proceed forward with our plans,” said longtime resident and former Silverhill mayor Frankie Kucera, who has helped spearhead the memorial from the beginning.

The annual Silverhill Memorial Day Weekend Car Show, held Saturday, May 25, is an event to raise funds for the memorial, and proceeds from that event, which drew more than 140 cars, and a quilt raffle which raised an additional $2,000, put the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization, a non-profit company, over its goal of raising $30,000 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).

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.

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.

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 to keep going,” Kucera said. “We want to keep adding names and adding to the memorial. We want to honor as many people from this town and the surrounding area as we can.”

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.

This year’s Memorial Day Service included a welcome by Lamar Giles, prayer by the Rev. Jesse Adams and the raising of the flag by Bill Coley, Lew Rice, Jack George, Mike Girard and Dave Hitchcock with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Lamar Giles and the National Anthem led by Steven Grant, Ollie and Daizee Finley, who also presented a special song, “God Bless America.”

Reveille and TAPS were played by bugler Joel Sterling, who assisted in honoring veterans who died over the past year with the names read by Frankie Kucera.

Guest speaker for this year’s service was retired U.S. Army Veteran Samuel Rollason, who asked, and answered, the question, “Was it worth it?”

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.