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VFW monument honors the fallen

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"If we don't make something that's a physical, lifelong recognition of these men, they fade away," said veteran Ed Buchanan

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Officials with the Grover King VFW Post 1115 wanted the public to know that they put a $3,000 community grant towards a memorial for fallen soldiers.
The VFW post received the money from the now-defunct Hillsville Rescue Squad as the former emergency medical provider disbursed its remaining funds as its last act. Veteran Ed Buchanan said the post used the funds to create a new memorial that’s positioned at the main entrance to the post in Hillsville.
The memorial is a “Fallen Soldier Battlecross,” made up of a soldier’s rifle with bayonet stuck in the ground, helmet at the top, dog tags and boots.

This practice has been around since the Civil War as a means of identifying the bodies on a battleground before being removed.
“Today, it is an immediate means of showing respect for the fallen among the still living members of the troop,” Buchanan said in the grant request. “It might be seen in the field or base camp after the battle in Afghanistan or Iraq. Used less today as a means to identify the fallen but more as a private ceremony among those still living as a means to mourn, as attending the funeral is not always possible for the soldiers still in the fight.”
While the battlecross symbolizes all the armed forces personnel lost in war, the memorial is also a way to recognize those who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, Buchanan noted.
VFW members feel grateful to the former rescue squad for providing the money to make the memorial possible.
“If we don’t make something that’s a physical, lifelong recognition of these men, they fade away,” he explained.
This is another way the VFW post provides benefits to veterans, as well as to the community, by — as their motto characterizes it — “honoring the dead by serving the living.”
The non-profit service organization carries out a long list of services, including providing color guards on holidays and honor guards for military funerals; donations to charities, youth projects, shelters and other community initiatives; adopting military units during deployments; sponsoring baseball teams and more.
Most people just associate the VFW with its most high-profile events, but a lot more goes on at the post than meets the eye.
The battlecross monument will “tell them we do more than renting our building out [and having] the flea market,” as Buchanan expressed it.