A tabby wall emblazoned with the seals of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine will one day be the setting for memorial ceremonies at the end of Bluffton’s Memorial and Veterans Day parades.
The Bluffton Veterans Memorial, which is slated for approval at the July meeting of the Bluffton Town Council, will also serve as a place of reflection and honor year-round.
It’s a project near and dear to Kay Ranta, chaplain for the Bluffton American Legion Auxiliary Unit 205.
“My dream has come true. My passion is being realized,” Ranta said.
The idea sprang into her mind when a Veterans Day parade a few years ago reached its destination and there was no place for 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?”
After approaching the town for a memorial, she was invited to give a presentation to the council. Her plan was eventually put on the Capital Improvements Projects list. That was about two years ago.
The town has determined a general location for the memorial – in Buckwalter Place between the Bluffton Police Department and Kroger – and now Ranta can turn her attention to fundraising.
“The Daughters of the American Revolution have already donated $200 toward the memorial. After the July town council meeting, our fundraiser forms will be available around town, through the Legion branch, and on our website,” Ranta said.
The actual fundraising project is the purchase of individual engraved bricks that will become part of the memorial – a one-size-fits-all brick with three engraved lines for $100. The brick company will store the bricks for only one year, and Ranta doesn’t want to have the bricks arriving before the site is ready for installation.
“Once the approval is ‘set in stone,’ we will commence with the brick program and have a sign – ‘Site of the Bluffton Veterans Memorial’ – placed at the site to keep the project in front of the public,” said Ranta. “The memorial will be dedicated to the men and women of the Armed Services who have served our country and community with valor and self-sacrifice.”
Ranta’s dedication to this project stems from a long line of military family members.
“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, whom Ranta said donated his time and talent to create a sketch of the proposed memorial and park.
Until the official fundraiser begins, donations are being accepted in any amount. Checks should be made payable to: Bluffton Veterans’ Memorial and mailed to: P.O. Box 1933, Bluffton SC 29910. This is a 501(c)(3) fully bonded organization; all donations should be tax deductible.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.