Slowing sales of inscribed bricks spells trouble for veteran’s memorial
After struggling through a year of poor fundraising, the veterans’ memorial in Franklin desperately needs to sell some bricks.
The memorial, located within the Macon County Veterans Memorial Park, has been described as one of the most impressive and immaculate veterans’ memorials in the region, and even the state. Neal Riendeau, chairman of the veterans memorial board of directors, said the memorial is so grandiose he has seen it bring grown men to tears.
“It’ll be the finest thing you’ll see in Western North Carolina,” Riendeau said.
However, to pay the $6,500 per year tab to mow the grass, maintain the flower plots, repair the gazebo and keep the paths clear, the committee relies on the sale of personalized bricks, inscribed with the names of businesses, individuals or other organizations.
The bricks line the six walkways that extend from the center memorial, one walkway for each of the six branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Merchant Marines and Coast Guard. Macon County has 4,500 veterans, but Riendeau said you don’t have to be from the area to buy a brick. The memorial has sold bricks to people as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.
“It’s just to honor veterans,” Riendeau said. “Families are honoring dads, brothers, uncles, sisters that have served.”
However, sales of the bricks took a steep dive in 2012. That year the memorial sold just 38 bricks, about half of what it sold in 2011. The beginning of this year has started out slow as well. The shortfall caused the board of directors to dip into its savings account to cover upkeep, which is ultimately unsustainable.
If the brick sales can’t keep pace with the costs of contracted maintenance, Riendeau worries about the potential for a veteran’s memorial that is unkempt. He said allowing the memorial to fall into disrepair would be unacceptable.
“Because of respect, because of what it is,” Riendeau said. “It’s a memorial for all veterans.”
People interested in purchasing a personalized brick for the Veteran’s Memorial in Macon County Veterans Memorial Park (formerly known as the Macon County Recreation Park) can do so online. Bricks range in price and size, from $100 to $500 and from eight inches by four inches to one square foot.