By Josh Whitener
Heavy rains have delayed the dedication of a Mint Hill memorial originally expected to be complete later this month, organizers say.
The still-under-construction North Carolina Korean War Veterans Memorial, located at Mint Hill’s Park on Fairview, is waiting on the finishing touches after poor weather interfered with construction.
Organizers originally hoped to have the memorial complete this month and hold a dedication ceremony on Tuesday, June 25 – the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. But retired Col. Bill Reid, co-chairman of the memorial committee, said earlier this week a June dedication isn’t likely.
“Weather has been a big holdup,” Reid said. “There’s been so much rain. No one person is responsible for (the delay) except for the rain, but we’re ready to move forward as soon as it stays dry for a few days.”
Additional granite work – primarily the engraving of 35 to 40 pavers – is among the few tasks that still need to be completed before the memorial is finished. Lexington Blue Granite, based out of Elberton, Ga., is responsible for the work and has engraved more than 400 markers and pavers for the monument already.
Reid said they’re also waiting on a 5,000-pound granite marker to arrive. Once the granite work is done, lighting and flagpoles will be installed and some final landscaping work will be finished.
Despite last week’s storms, construction teams were able to finish pouring concrete for sidewalks adjacent to the monument, Reid said. “Major repaving” of the nearby parking lot also is scheduled for the near future, as long as the weather cooperates, he added.
“The weather has been so unpredictable,” he said. “We’ve had so much rain this spring. They can’t work when it’s raining, and they can’t work for a couple days after the rain because the ground is so soft.”
Construction also slowed down late last year due to delays with the plumbing work for the memorial’s fountain. Reid said the committee is anxious to finish work on the memorial and the granite work would take “only several days” to complete once Lexington Blue Granite begins the remaining engraving. He added, though, representatives from the company haven’t told him when workers may arrive.
“We hope to have it finished shortly,” Reid said, “but we don’t want to dedicate it until it’s finished.”
When finished, the N.C. Korean War Veterans Memorial will include two statues of soldiers (one dressed in uniform and the other in a poncho), a fountain representing the center element – or “taeguk” – of the Korean national flag, a walkway of granite pavers honoring service members of all wars, granite benches and four pillars honoring the 789 soldiers from North Carolina who either were killed or went missing in action during the war, according to the memorial’s website.
The memorial also will have a marker for Billy Kim, a houseboy during the Korean War who was adopted and brought to America by a U.S. soldier. Kim eventually became a world-renowned evangelist, president of the Baptist World Alliance and a colleague of Rev. Billy Graham.
“We’ll have the story of (Kim’s) life engraved on this very large monument marker,” Reid said. “We’re in the process of doing that now, and it should be installed sometime soon.”
For more information on the N.C. Korean War Veterans Memorial, go to www.koreanwarmemorialnc.com.