BELVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - A memorial with more than 300 bricks dedicated in honor of veterans now sits on a portion of the Brunswick Riverwalk in Belville.
The Brunswick Riverwalk Veterans Memorial was unveiled during a moving Veterans Day Ceremony Monday.
“We’re so happy we can give a place that veterans can come down and their families can come and reflect and look to the past and the future of our country, and pay respect to their loved ones that have served our nation," said Belville Mayor and Veteran Mike Allen.
All branches of the armed forces are represented with their flags and corresponding emblems which have been embedded into a boulder to serve as the memorial’s centerpiece.
“It’s our little piece of the world for the veterans who have served, all the branches of service, and served their nation and took that oath that they’ll have a permanent place here at this park that they can come and sit down and reflect back,” mayor Allen said.
The memorial was built entirely through sponsorships and fundraising contributions. It was finished six months ahead of schedule and $2,000 under budget.
The extra money was donated to the local Canines for Service organization Monday. Canines for Service trains dogs to be paired with disabled veterans.
For Mayor Allen, the memorial will be a place where he can go and remember his father, a veteran who served in the Marine Corps during World War II.
“It means a lot to me now that I can come out here and sit down and look and see my father’s name on one of those bricks,” Allen said.
For Gold Star Mother Margie Fleischhauer, it will be a place for her to come and say her sons name out loud.
“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing, and the other time which is a bit farther along, when somebody says your name for the last time. So now as I pass bridges in memory of, or a brick with a name on it, I speak that name out loud to keep his or her memory alive,” Fleischhauer said.
The memorial is also meant to serve as a place for family members of veterans to feel connected with their loved ones.
“When those loved ones go off, those ones that are left behind are left with no idea of when or if their loved ones will be coming home,” said US Army Sgt. Josef Genda.
But above all, it’s meant as a place to honor all who have served.
“The truth is, America is the land of the free because of the brave,” Fleischhauer said.
The memorial will be lit 24/7, 365 days a year.
If you’re interested in dedicating a brick to honor or remembrance of a veteran in your life, you can call Belville Town Hall.