November 9, 2017
It was a rainy afternoon at the Havelock campus of Craven Community College during the event of commemorating a memorial park to those who have served our country. You wouldn’t have known it was wet by the crowd of people who gathered there. It was a group of civilians, retired military, and active duty military who stood outside watching the flags of each branch of service being hoisted up alongside of the American flag. After the National Anthem was played and a few words were spoken by the Havelock Campus Dean Wally Calabrese, a retired Marine as well, the large group entered the college to hear some remarks.
The military has a tremendous presence in North Carolina and is the basis for much of its commerce, especially in Havelock. This may be old news to residents but it’s a new experience for a non-military, newly established resident of the area. There are few other communities that boast such a strong military presence, with large numbers of families who are here temporarily until new orders arrive, and other families who have decided to make Havelock their home.
This memorial commemorates veterans of all wars. When the question was asked by retired Marine Corps Major General Braaten, “Who here has served?”, more than ⅔ of those present rose. They were asked to join Major General Braaten at the front of the room so that everyone gathered could see how many veterans have served in our community. Veterans Day is one day out of 365. Soldiers, Sailors and Marines live on in memories and, those who make it back from service, live on in their lives the other 364 days as well. So a memorial is one permanent way to remember and recognize those who have volunteered to serve this great nation. It serves as yet another reminder that the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis came at a very high price. Major General Braaten said, “If you want to thank a soldier, be the kind of American worth fighting for.” He went on to enumerated figures of almost 3 million Americans who served in the Vietnam War and came back to hatred and insults. Veterans of the Korean War were neglected and forgotten. This memorial is a testament to remembering the sacrifices made by all these service members and honoring their service by helping provide scholarships for new veterans entering the civilian workforce.
There are bricks that adorn the floor of the memorial have been sponsored by community businesses and individuals who recognize the importance of giving back to their community. A portion of these donations for the bricks will be used for education programs and scholarships for veterans and their families. Anyone can still donate by placing an online order at the Craven Community College. The idea that became a dream and is now a reality was created by Gunny Sergeant Walter Calabrese, Retired Marine, along with support from others. Credit to the completed design and installation goes to J & S Landscaping.
Next time you visit the Havelock Public Library, step outside through the back door and admire this beautiful creation. Be grateful.
For more information visit: www.bricksrus.com/order/cravencommunitycollege.
Written by: Miriam Monroe, Havelock Chamber of Commerce Ambassador