Repaired war monument back up

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@mtairynews.com
A monument to Surry County military members who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I is shown Tuesday, when it was returned to Oakdale Cemetery after off-site repairs necessitated by a hit-and-run incident during the spring. - Bill Colvard | The News

More than three months after it was damaged by an alleged hit-and-run driver, a monument honoring local servicemen who died in World War I once again sits proudly in a Mount Airy cemetery.

“It got put back up yesterday,” Michella Huff, city grounds and maintenance supervisor, said Wednesday.

Tuesday’s reappearance of the war memorial at Oakdale Cemetery on North Main Street provided a happy ending to an ordeal that had begun on May 17 when the granite marker was struck by a vehicle and toppled from its foundation.

The damaged monument, 4 to 5 feet tall, remained flat on the ground for more than two months as officials sought to resolve liability and insurance issues surrounding repairs to the memorial owned by the American Legion.

It had been dedicated on July 4, 1936, by local Jesse B. Jones Post 123 of the American Legion, containing the names of 30 Surry Countians who died from 1917-18 during the First World War. Jones is listed among those making the supreme sacrifice.

The impasse eventually led to a decision about a month ago by a then-anonymous donor to remove and repair the memorial, then re-erect it at the municipal-owned cemetery.

That person was identified Wednesday as Mark Stevens, the owner of Acme Stone Co. in Mount Airy, who was contacted by the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

“And he donated all the work,” said Huff, who manages Oakdale Cemetery among her other responsibilities as Mount Airy’s grounds and maintenance supervisor.

Stevens did so as a way of saying thanks to veterans, Huff indicated.

“I know he had to do sandblasting to get it clean,” she added of the off-site efforts involved. “He (Stevens) did replace the entire base — the base is brand-new.”

“Pitch” work also was done to fix areas of the granite surface that were damaged. The marker ended up being a little shorter than it was, but Huff is pleased with the final product.

“It looks really brand-new,” the grounds and maintenance supervisor said. “All the names are very clean.”

Mayor David Rowe, who is a member of the Mount Airy Cemetery Commission, which was concerned about getting the memorial repaired as soon as possible, also is happy about the outcome and the larger significance it holds.

“I am glad to see it back in place and I think we should honor our veterans for sure,” he said Wednesday. “I think we should always remember the sacrifice those folks have made.”

Bradley Dean Holder of Mount Airy was charged with hit and run/leaving the scene involving property damage in the wake of the monument being struck. Holder, then 20, was traveling north on North Main Street when the 1986 Chevrolet he was operating left the roadway and hit the memorial.

The case had been set for Tuesday’s session of Surry District Court, but court records show it was continued to Oct. 31.

There is a question about whether Holder had permission to drive the vehicle involved, owned by another person, which prompted liability and insurance uncertainties.

Also affected during the incident were grave stones for former city commissioners Charles Lowry and his son Frank as well as those of Jesse and Frances Smith.

The Smith grave site has been restored, Huff said, with work yet to be done at the Lowry graves.

A monument to Surry County military members who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I is shown Tuesday, when it was returned to Oakdale Cemetery after off-site repairs necessitated by a hit-and-run incident during the spring.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Erect-this.jpgA monument to Surry County military members who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I is shown Tuesday, when it was returned to Oakdale Cemetery after off-site repairs necessitated by a hit-and-run incident during the spring. Bill Colvard | The News

By Tom Joyce

tjoyce@mtairynews.com

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.