March 30, 2016
Veteran’s Memorial comes to life at Arthur Community Building
By Kent A. Stock – Staff Writer
“It has been a real community effort since the beginning,” said Terry Ferchow and Dick Hein of Arthur American Legion Post 479. “The idea originally was just to move the picture cases displaying our veterans’ photos; it grew from there.
Displaying pictures of Arthur area veterans or those related to Arthur residents goes back all the way to World II when pictures of those serving their country were hung in the pool hall (former site of The Villa/Shoes Too and now Winters Galleries). When Delbert Taylor bought the building he put them in storage and saved the display.
Eventually, the pictures along with many photos that were added were put into cases in the new community building. They were displayed in the hallway between the city offices and the community center main room. “The display was very nice, the cases looked great but the only time people would see them is if they had to use that hallway where the restrooms were located,” said Ferchow. Both men talked to their fellow veterans about a more public location to honor the service men and women.
The men approached the village about the idea to move the displays into the main room of the community center for more visibility. They worked things out with the city and that is when doing some other than just hanging the pictures back up really began to come to life.
“We decided we needed an index for the display so people could locate someone,” said Hein. “We could not really continually re-do the display alphabetically or chronologically as new pictures came in. However, we could always update a directory with little trouble.”
The idea of a mural above the picture cases was very appealing to everyone and would make a very vivid display of American military history. Terry’s wife, Nancy, happened to be watching the WCIA-Channel 3 News one night and caught a segment featuring Mike Harper of Danville. Harper, whose business is Art as a Mission, had just completed a mural in Danville on the side of the Legion Hall there.
“We contacted Mike, told him about our mural concept and met with him in Champaign,” said Ferchow. He came prepared with pictures, ideas and an explanation of the process. He was excited to do the project and we knew we’d found the right guy.”
The mural is divided into four sections: Revolutionary and Civil War; World Wars I and II; Korea and Vietnam; Desert Storm to current. Hein and Ferchow said it was a three part process that was involved while working on the mural. The Legion Post here would select photos/scenes from each time frame referenced and then take those to Mike explaining on each “frame” what they were looking for in the final product.
Harper would take the information, draw up a draft version and bring it down to display upon the wall via overhead projector. They would talk about any changes that needed to be made, Mike would go back, make the changes and then set to work.
“Mike warned us that if you came in when he first started on the wall, it would just look like a bunch of lines and stick figures. He told us it meant something to him which it surely did. Once he began painting and filling out each section, it was amazing to watch the whole process from beginning to end. We are extremely pleased with the outcome!”
As the project unfolded, many people in the community stepped up to help. “We raised over $4,000 in donations to help pay for the project once the word got out about what we were doing,” said Ferchow. “Noel Dicks and Bill Crane, both veterans, became our technological consultants helping with pictures and the directory for the veterans in the display cases plus communicating with everyone about what was needed for the project.”
Hein and Ferchow indicated there were many others involved in what would be in the display. “Matt Fritz supplied a flag that had flown over Central Command in Afghanistan and the Industrial Arts Department at Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond High School made the flag box to put the flag in for display.”
Arthur Eagle Scout David Rosenbaum did exhaustive research on the community’s Civil War veterans for his Eagle Scout project. His list of those veterans will be part of the directory for use by visitors to the community building to see the display.
Plank’s Cabinet Shop (Ed and Mary Miller) made the fourth cabinet needed to display the additional incoming pictures. Steve Gingerich of Amish Country Heirlooms donated the corner locks and the trim was donated by another local business which wished to remain anonymous.
“The Tintype helped us out with photos and advice, the Graphic-Clarion helped tell our story as we went along, Lisa Edwards helped with photo matting, Carol Huffman for her photography skills, Jodi Clayton for assistance with layout and programs while Erica Carter and Christy Frederick at the Village Offices made sure we were always able to get in and out of the building.”
Other veterans and Legion members helped out with the various parts of the set-up of the display. “All we had to do was ask,” said Hein. “People showed up to help out as needed. Harry Bell, Jaime Rafferty, Joel Fitzjarrald and so many others. We think we have a great program lined up for our Dedication Ceremony too.”
The Open House and Dedication of the Veteran’s Memorial will be held at the Community Building on Sunday, May 15 starting at 3 p.m. A schedule will be printed elsewhere in the paper.