Kannapolis dedicating new Veterans Park, memorial Monday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 26, 2013

KANNAPOLIS – Teams of workers have been making the final preparations all week for Monday’s grand reopening of Veterans Park in downtown Kannapolis.
Gov. Pat McCrory will speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, to be held at noon Monday at the park.
Also, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson is scheduled to present a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol building.
The ceremony will be preceded by parade of veterans down North Main Street, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Constructed in 1906, Veterans Park was originally known as Town Park, created by the Cannon Mills Co. when Kannapolis was still company-owned and unincorporated.
During World War II, the park was home to Little Mount Vernon, a monument honoring Kannapolis residents serving in the military.
It was rededicated as Veterans Park in 2001.
The park has been closed since spring 2012 for the construction of a new veterans memorial and renovations of the existing sundial, pavilion and walkways — part of a $2.4 million project to revitalize one of the city’s main downtown intersections, and a key landmark.
In announcing the project last year, Mayor Bob Misenheimer said that the park would be reopened on Memorial Day 2013.
Parks and Recreation Director Gary Mills said teams of workers — as many as 30 at one point in time — had been on site during the final week to overcome weather-related delays in the project from earlier in the year.
Mills said the park would “absolutely” be ready for Monday’s festivities, adding that the contractor in charge, Cornelius-based J.D. Goodrum, “understands the deadline” and had brought in additional manpower.
In a phone interview, Misenheimer said he was glad that the park was ready to be reopened.
“This is very, very special, near and dear to my heart, because so many of those persons made the supreme sacrifice,” Misenheimer said.
Misenheimer, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served in the Korean War, said many residents are still learning about the permanent veterans memorial — a long-planned addition to downtown.
“We’ve been many, many years in getting this recognition. I’m just tickled that it has come to fruition,” Misenheimer said.
One of the changes in scope that took place during the project, Mills said, was the expansion of the “ring of honor” in the center of the memorial.
Original plans called for the centerpiece of the park to be a memorial listing the names of military personnel from Kannapolis who had died in service.
During construction, that memorial was expanded to include not only Kannapolis residents, but service members from Rowan and Cabarrus Counties — appropriate, because the city sits astride the county line.
“There are 1,718 names on the ring of honor … dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” Mills said.
Nearby, an eternal flame will burn to memorialize those who served. The flame will be lit during Monday’s ceremony.
The Veterans Day program will feature a number of performances, including the A.L. Brown High School Chorus.
Elsewhere, at 10 a.m. the Kannapolis Intimidators will play a special baseball game with the Wounded Warriors at CMC-NorthEast Stadium, located off Lane Street.
Also, at 2 p.m., Mills said, the downtown Gem Theater will offer a free showing of the 2001 film “Pearl Harbor.”
Mills said he expects over 1,000 people to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Misenheimer said he had heard some conversations about the events throughout the city this past week, but hopes that many people — especially veterans — will hear, and attend.
“The most general comment I’m hearing is, it’s about time we give some recognition for the service that (veterans) gave,” Misenheimer said.