Veterans-Park-1

Veterans Memorial Park in Wayne County may be getting a new monument and the story about who is bringing the monument is as interesting as the war it will remember.  However, this article is about more than just a monument going into a local park.  It’s a story about passion, perseverance, volunteerism, and love of community. 

I was recently challenged to go around Wayne County through the eyes of a tourist by visiting amenities I had not gone to before.  It was a wonderful experience and I recommend every resident take this challenge

One of the places on my list was the Veterans Memorial Park and what I found there was more than just beautiful monuments and military equipment.

The Best Communities Have One Thing In Common

According to author and community development consultant, Peter Kageyama, the best communities have residents that have a relationship with their community.   When this happens, citizens realize it’s a two-way street.  It’s not just what the city can do for you but, what you can do for your city.   Both the local government and the citizens are responsible for building and maintaining a great community. 

Watch Peter’s video below to learn more about how community residents can develop a relationship with the community.

So, what does this mean for Forward Wayne County?

Forward Wayne County’s mission is to unify funders and providers and measure the results of the collective efforts. However, a strong community needs more than funders and providers, it also needs residents to love where they live. When residents have a relationship with their place and love where they live they take ownership of the future of the community. This we know will lead to great things.  So above all though, Forward Wayne County’s goal is for residents to love where they live. 

When residents love where they live great things happen! 

These great things include attracting more residents and high wage employers.  It means better quality of place, improved neighborhoods, and more.  Therefore, FWC doesn’t just work on initiatives centered on people or just on the community, instead, we support efforts that tackle both.  Strong communities have strong people.  We have to work on both at the same time.  To learn more about our strategies see our strategic plan on our homepage.

Boy Scouts Troop 100
Boy Scouts Troop 100 at Wayne County Veterans Memorial Park

Wayne County Veterans Memorial Park Gains Another Advocate

I placed the Veterans Memorial Park on my list for a few reasons. First, I had not been there before, and yet, I had heard so many great things about it. I knew it was time to check it out.  Second, my uncle Gene Stamper had just received his memorial brick for his service in the Korean War.  Lastly, I had just finished the book, Unbroken, where I read about a Japanese POW and felt compelled to pay respect to him and my uncle. 

When I pulled up at the Veterans Memorial Park, I saw a group of boys digging a hole.  Curiosity got the best of me and I’m glad it did.  After interrupting their work, I learned it was Boy Scouts Troop 100 and they were making space for a new monument. 

Boy Scout Seeks To Add A New Monument

Seton Catholic Sophomore, Nick Rader, had recruited his fellow Troop 100 Boy Scouts to help him with completing his Eagle Scout Project.  However, this day was a year in the making. 

Last year, Rader started to research his family’s history and unexpectedly discovered his ancestors fought in the American Revolutionary War.  Yes, the war that allowed us to become the United States of America.  Once he had learned about his family’s role in this war he knew he had to honor them in the local Veterans Memorial Park. 

Draft Design Of the American Revolutionary War

Nick went on to share that the process has been long, but well worth it.  First, he started with the Richmond’s Parks Department, presenting to Denise Retz.  Once, he had the thumbs up from Denise he had to present to the Parks board, the Troop board, Boy Scouts Council and the Veterans Park Board.   Finally, he worked with Dwyer Monuments for a design and quote and waited for his descendant from a veteran of the American Revolutionary War paperwork to come in.  This process had taken more than a year!

Nick didn’t let Covid-19 stop him from fundraising, as the Pal-Item reported a few months ago.  Using a 3-D printer Nick design, printed, and put together over a thousand ear savers to help pay for the monument.  When I asked him how much he had received from the ear savers.  He replied, “I gave them away because it was the right thing to do.”

The entire cost of the project is nearly $20,000, this includes the monument, the concrete, and the bricks that would surround it.  Rader has received some donations and is working to raise the other $13,000 through GoFundMe.   I have no doubt Nick will raise this money given his drive and tenacity.

Nick Rader at Wayne County's Veterans Memorial Park
Nick Rader at Wayne County’s Veterans Memorial Park

Having a Relationship With Your Community

In conclusion, this story is not just about a high school boy scout putting a monument in the local park.  It’s about one boy scout’s relationship with his community.  It’s about how he can better serve his local community.  He could have quit when had to get the descendants’ proof, or when he had to present in front of several boards, or when he received the cost of the monument.  However, he didn’t. Instead, he pushed through each obstacle in the pursuant of honor fallen soldiers and contributing to our community in his own way.

We hope this inspires you to have a relationship with Wayne County. We believe to build a strong community, we must remember the importance of love, and emotional engagement with our community.

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About the Author

Lauralee Hites is a lifelong resident of Wayne County, Indiana and self-described wanderlust. After moving away 3 times and returning to Wayne County each time, she’s learned to see her community through a new set of eyes. This article is a follow up to her recent Residents Guide to Things To Do in Wayne County.

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