Passion for honoring veterans leads to drive for memorial
Gwyneth J. Saunders
Kay Ranta wants to see a veterans' memorial erected in Bluffton.
"All the small towns in South Carolina, at least 90 percent I would say, have some sort of a memorial in town, and some of them are quite large," Ranta said. "I just wanted a respite - someplace for people to sit and think and share their thoughts with others."
It started as a small thought, said Ranta, and now it's a joint collaboration with the Bluffton American Legion Auxiliary and the Town of Bluffton to build a Veteran's Memorial Park in the Old Town area.
"We started a Veterans Day parade, and at the end of the parade there was no place to hold a ceremony. With the floats, everybody got off and just walked away," she said. "I thought it was nice to have the parade, but where is the ceremony?"
Ranta approached the town about building a memorial and was told she could make a presentation to the Council. She made the presentation and spoke recently with Deputy Town Manager Scott Marshall, who told her that following the strategic planning committee's recent meeting, the plan was on the Capital Improvements Projects list.
"There are three different places they have in mind based on the design shape, although they haven't told me," Ranta said. "It's taking a giant step forward. The Town has agreed to a piece of land - the exact location is to be determined shortly."
Ranta, who has lived in Bluffton for 10 years, has been a member of an American Legion Auxiliary in many of the places she has lived for most of her life, from New York to Arizona, and now here with Post 205's auxiliary.
Her passion for veterans began with her family.
"My husband was in the service during the Vietnam War, although he did not go over there. I had two cousins in the Merchant Marines, my uncles and my grandfather served, and I have ancestors who fought in the Spanish-American war," she said. "My brother retired from the Army. He was in Korea and Vietnam. So it's the passion of just feeling for the people who have sacrificed so much, all of the men and women. I just talk to so many of them who are looking for peace within their own minds."
The memorial has a tentative design created by local artist Doug Corkern, who Ranta said donated his time and talent to create a sketch of the proposed memorial and park.
For the moment, the memorial is in limbo until a decision becomes official, she said, but when the site has been designated, Ranta said there would be plenty of ways for folks to support the building effort.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.