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War memorial parking created for veterans, service members

Daily Herald - 4/17/2018

April 17--The Maury County Courthouse is home to a monument dedicated in honor of the region's service men and women who lost their lives in military conflicts.

To give veterans from far and wide more access to the monument located on the westward facing corners of the courthouse, a parking lot has been designated strictly for visiting service members.

"They ought to do something for those who have fought and died for the county and the country," Ed Johnson, a local veteran, told The Daily Herald. "We all did a lot to keep this place safe."

Members of the commission and county offices gathered with local veterans on Monday to celebrate the christening of the new space, which has been made for veteran only parking for the past several weeks.

The lot sits directly adjacent to the monuments, allowing for easy, wheel-chair friendly access, at a convenience for visiting veterans.

The lot is all the more significant because of concerns over a lack of parking in downtown Columbia.

"You can't hardly find a spot to park here these days," Johnson said.

He recommends the county build a public parking garage downtown.

Maury County Commission Chairman Michael Fulbright said the county service men and women deserve both respect and thanks, and this is the least the county could do for them.

"It is important that we have something designated," Fulbright said. "It can be so hard to find parking."

A community member originally made the proposal for a spot to be made available for visiting veterans, and after consulting with Maury County Mayor Charlie Norman, a location was selected and a sign was made.

Norman said he was moved by the visiting veterans who took the time to find the names of the friends they lost while fighting abroad.

"We just thought it was a no brainer," Norman said.

The mayor said there have been cases of people parking in the spot for other business and hopes the community will learn that the spot is only available to service men and women visiting the monument.

"Many have served with family members," Norman said. "It was great to see all the veterans out there as they looked at the names of their fellow soldiers."

Norman said he and others in the office were thanked by the local veterans for the new spot.

"They did all the work, we are just trying to recognize their service. Everyone is included and we want to recognize all who served."

Maury County is home to more than 15,000 veterans.

The city is also home to a veterans service office. Funded by the county, the office provides assistance to former service men and women such as filing of claims for compensation and/or pensions, filing for medical reimbursement and applying for medical treatment at V.A. medical centers.

James Patterson serves as director of the office which is located inside Columbia'sMemorial Building located at 308 W. 7th St. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To contact the office, call (931) 381 7094.

The base of the war memorial was expanded in recent years and now contains names of local soldiers who died during the Civil War.

In 2013, the memorial made news for the addition of 58 previously unknown soldiers, 54 of whom were African American and fought as members of the 13th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops.

Jo Ann McClennan, the founder and president of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County, discovered a list of African American residents who were members of the United States Colored Troops, a separate division of the Union Army.

McClennan's research revealed the names of these men and four other previously unknown Maury County men who served in the Union Army and died in defense of the Union. McClennan and her organization began to push to have these names added to the base of the memorial.

"We basically went through hundreds of thousands of records one by one just to identity the ones from Maury County," McClennan told The Daily Herald.

Names are continually added to the monument.


(c)2018 The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.)

Visit The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.) at www.columbiadailyherald.com

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