Democrat Photo by Rob Potter
MONUMENT MOMENT: Bill Higgins (left), Betty Higgins and Tom Warrren look over the Parksville Veterans Monument on a recent day. The three are working to repair the structure and are seeking help from other concerned citizens.
By Rob Potter
PARKSVILLE August 4, 2000 Over the past several months, millions of dollars have been raised nationwide for construction of a monument to honor World War II soldiers. Organizers are hoping to have the WWII Memorial completed at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in the next few weeks so it can be formally dedicated at Veterans Day ceremonies.
People in Parksville are also hoping to conduct a similiar ceremony in November. Bill and Betty Higgins are among those working to refurbish and improve the Parksville Veterans Memorial.
Located within a small green fence almost directly across the street from the former Parksville Post Office, the memorial features an honor roll of names of Parksville residents who have served in the U.S. armed forces during wartime. The original wood honor roll, with the name of every local veteran carefully written on a separate piece of wood, was started in 1942 by Jack Fiddle.
In 1976, the honor roll was redone and set in a large bluestone base. Then in 1988, a stone noting Fiddles dedication to the monument was placed in front of it.
Currently, the Higgins are seeking donations and volunteers to help clean up the monument and its surroundings. The fence has several rust spots and is weak, two large bushes near the stone need to be removed and the white framed list of names is rotting at the seams where it meets the stone.
Tom Warren, who helped install Fiddles appreciation stone and Korean and Vietnam War plaques on the large memorial, plans to help clean up the stone. He also is making arrangements for a professional to redo the list of names on the honor roll portion of the memorial.
I want to take care of it, Betty Higgins said of the monument. It means a lot to the families of those listed on the honor roll. Our two sons served in Vietnam, so we know how important this is for the families of those who didnt return.
Another reason Betty Higgins has made the memorial her pet project is Fiddle, who passed away shortly after the 1988 ceremony. Higgins noted that Fiddle, who sold over $1 million in war bonds during World War II, was a wonderful man.
She added that Fiddle helped raise $1,300 to start the honor roll six decades ago.
And it is the only veterans monument in Sullivan County that was put up entirely by the people, Higgins said. There were no grants or funding from the federal government, state government or county government.
Since a photo of the monument appeared in the Democrat just after Memorial Day, slightly over $300 has been sent to the Higgins for repairing the site.
Organizations like the Liberty American Legion and Clarence Hoyt VFW Post 9217 of Liberty have helped out by donating the small American flags on display in the monument park, and the Daughters of the American Revolution have made a monetary donation. People from all over, including Florida, New Jersey and Queens, have sent donations.
But the couple is still seeking donations to help defray the cost of refurbishing the monument. Anyone wishing to help can send a contribution to 365 Breezy Hill Road, Parksville, NY 12768.
For more information, or to offer to help refurbish the memorial and its surroundings, call the Higgins at 292-8710.