By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
Nearly 20 years ago, a group of community members under the leadership of Career Woman’s Club began a drive to have a permanent veteran’s memorial spot in Picayune. With the help of city leadership and Greater Picayune Area, Inc., the members achieved their goal through a program called “Brick by Brick.”
The first bricks were laid May, 19, 1990, in a formal ceremony. The bricks surrounded a 27 foot obelisk of gray granite.
A few months ago, as City Manager Jim Luke was driving down Goodyear Boulevard, he noticed that instead of seeing the Veteran’s area memorial obelisk surrounded by engraved bricks with names of local veterans, he saw overgrown shrubbery which blocked the once stunning view dedicated to those who serve past and present.
Luke decided that in addition to the dedication of the expanded City Hall, he would hold a rededication of the memorial area for veterans which would feature not one monument, but an additional monument to honor those deployed in more recent wars. Each would be seen with clean, unhindered views of them from the boulevard and have reflection benches for family members and fellow veterans strategically placed and surrounded with engraved bricks on both sides of the city hall.
“I want the city to reclaim the area and make it warm and inviting for those who serve and their loved ones,” said Luke. “A lot of planning went into the original design and we want to honor that, as well as improve a little, through community contributions and insight from the original planners.
“There are many things that have come up since the area was initially installed. Today, we realize that we need more lighting and low tier plants which will enhance the landscape without interfering with the purpose and the view.”
Work immediately began, and today passers-by can see the difference that a cleaner view and replaced light bulbs bring.
“We are far from finished,” says Luke, “but we are already getting calls daily from people praising the visibility of the monument and inquiring about the bricks.
“We have decided in light of the recent deployment to bring back the ‘Brick by Brick’ program to raise money for the second monument to be placed at city hall and to give people the opportunity to commemorate loved ones who have been deployed in Desert Storm, the most recent deployment of the 857th, or to honor mothers and fathers who served. We have been able to keep the bricks at the same price as before — the engraved bricks are still only $50.”
Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero says, “I fully support this project, as it is of utmost importance to honor those who serve our country and sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.”
To order a personalized engraved brick, contact Diane Miller by phone at: 601-798-9770.