Head coach Mark Brew said Wednesday afternoon the school would attempt to have all the same activities on April 6 as originally planned at the fundraiser for the veterans park on Veterans Memorial Highway on the west end of Spring Creek Development. The Flames will play the Talladega (Ala.) College Tornadoes in a doubleheader. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the game is expected to be over by about 5 p.m.
“We will attempt to have all the same activities we had planned for this coming weekend,” Brew said. “We continue working on this great event to honor the veterans and active military in our community. Additionally, we will continue raising funds for the veterans park up until that date.”
The plans are for Oscar Kelley, a veteran of the U.S. Army and chaplain for American Legion Post 81, to lead the invocation. “God Bless America” will be performed by Tom Wickes, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former music minister for First Baptist Church of Cleveland. The ceremonial first pitches will be made by World War II veterans George Allen and Claude Wallace.
“This event is focused on honoring the veterans and active military members in the Cleveland community,” Brew said. “These men and women serve selflessly and do not ask for recognition in return. It is our privilege to honor them in this way.”
Funds for the Veterans Memorial Park will be raised from T-shirt sales and a silent auction. Donations will also be accepted during the game.
T-shirts can be purchased for $10 from Brew, Jenkins Deli, the downtown branch of the Bank of Cleveland, or the Cleveland Daily Banner.
Other highlights planned for the day include activities for kids such as inflatables, whiffle ball, and a radar gun speed throw. The No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard NASCAR race car and military equipment will also be on display.
Food vendors will be on location with mascots from the Chattanooga Lookouts, Chick-fil-A, and Zaxby’s.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland thought of the idea of a veterans park in Cleveland when state Rep. Kevin Brooks had a section of 25th Street/APD 40 designated Veterans Memorial Highway in February 2007.
It was the first bill sponsored by the then freshman representative from the District 24. He said at the time that retired Army Sgt. Donald Miller, a former Vietnam prisoner of war and Desert Storm veteran, was the catalyst behind renaming a portion of APD 40.
Miller spent 42 years in the Army Reserves and as a full-time employee with the 196th Field Artillery in Chattanooga. He served in Desert Storm at the age of 55.
Rowland began limited fundraising for the park in 2008 by offering trees to be marked in honor or memory of a veteran. Spring Creek developers Stan and Brenda Lawson donated the trees and the park property.
"We are grateful to Stan and Brenda Lawson, owners of Spring Creek, for making the property available for the Veterans Park as a tribute to veterans past and present.
“We are also grateful to Doug Caywood, architect, who worked to help us develop a concept for the park. Several individuals have donated trees in the area in memory or honor of a veteran. We will hold a special dedication for these trees in the future."
The mayor delayed the park because he did not want it to distract from the proposed state veterans home or the statue of Col. Benjamin Cleveland commissioned by the Sons of the American Revolution.
“The statue is near completion and it looks like the veterans home is going to happen. I felt like this was the right time to focus again on the park,” the mayor said. “Now, with the announcement that a new Hardee’s will be on the corner, the park will begin soon and complement both the Greenway for walkers and restaurant customers as well when it opens sometime in early to mid 2014.
“Already, walkers on the Greenway are enjoying the beauty of the area from Spring Creek to the Museum Center at Five Points as it passes through the Lee campus and historic downtown Cleveland.”
The passive park will consist of five black granite benches for each of the five branches of the military. A large flagpole will be in its center. It will be a park dedicated to all veterans.
So it is not a memorial park as such but a park to honor all who served or who are serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.