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World War II monument rededicated in Webster

fr monumentWebster will hold the biggest Veterans Day celebration it’s had for 64 years when it rededicates the World War II monument that Webster High School students erected in 1951 to honor their fallen classmates.

Jackson County’s best were among the millions of troops sent to fight far from home, and 11 of those who enlisted from Webster never made it back. 

“We took the utmost care in making sure the community was supportive of the relocation,” said Webster Mayor Nick Breedlove. “We wanted to do it in a respectful way that honored the World War II vets and also the intent of the students at the time to preserve those names and their contribution.”

The stone monument, which weighs more than a ton and is connected to an almost equally weighty concrete base, had seen better days when the town board first turned its collective eye toward giving the memorial a facelift. Its face was aging and badly in need of a cleaning and resealing. The patch of ground where it sat on the property of the Southwestern Child Development Commission — known as the Old Rock School — was overgrown and inaccessible to World War II veterans now in their 90s. Additionally, the town didn’t have any ownership of the space the monument occupied and therefore lacked the ability to maintain it. 

So, the town got to work, gathering input from veterans and other community members. It didn’t take long for a consensus to emerge, and the town started to chip away at the task of moving the monument to an easier-to-reach area of the center’s grounds, right next to the parking lot. 

“In politics pretty much any issue divides the public one way or another, but this is an example of a project that everybody from start to finish has gotten behind and supported 100 percent,” Breedlove said. 

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Donations and offers to lend professional equipment and time poured in. Jackson County donated landscaping and public works crews, McNeely’s Store & Rental gave use of its backhoe, Austin’s Light Hauling took away the brush and monument installer Linn Ash provided his services. Duke Energy gave $500 toward the project. 

All in all, the project cost Webster about $1,500 to buy a plaque, clean the monument, haul in dirt and hire a lawyer to get the town an easement on the site for future maintenance. 

But through it all, Breedlove said, the best part has been the opportunity to speak to the veterans the monument will serve.

“It’s just amazing to sit down with them and hear their stories,” he said.



Want to go? 

• What: Webster Veterans Day Celebration & Monument Rededication. The half-hour program will include a posting of colors by Boy Scout Troop 210, a musical performance by the Smokey Mountain High School Choir including the national anthem, and remarks from U.S. Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers; Jackson County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan; Webster Mayor Nick Breedlove; and Webster Historical Society President Joe Rhinehart. 

• When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, rain or shine

• Where: Webster’s Old Rock School, 1528 Webster Road (N.C. 116)

• Who: All military veterans are encouraged to attend, as well as the general public.

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