(Editor's Note: The following letter was also sent and addressed to the Palm Coast City Council.)
As a infantry combat veteran with the 1st Cavalry Air Mobile in Vietnam (1968-69), on March 29, National Vietnam War Veterans Day, I went to our Palm Coast Heroes Memorial Park to pay my respects, give thanks and contemplate all the memories that routinely flood over me on this and many other days.
I visited the Memorial Park in a solemn frame of mind not just for the over 100 members of Lean Apache A Co. 2/5th, my unit, who were killed in action in Vietnam. I also wanted to pay my respects to our police, deputies, firemen, first responders and victims of 9/11 who are supposed to be honored by our Heroes Memorial Park, contemplating the sacrifices made by men and women of valor who serve our country so that we can enjoy the peace and freedoms we have.
What I found completely frustrated, angered and saddened me. The condition of the park was deplorable.
Instead of feeling I had honored those who gave their best, sometimes their all, in service to the living, I was heartbroken over what I saw and left in great sadness.
The grounds were unkempt, covered with leaves, dying plants, flags lying on the ground and generally in a state of decay. I went home and wrote the city's parks department, the newspaper and posted on Nextdoor.com. I'm getting warmed up now; you will hear more from me.
I have yet to see what the city is going to do, but they have informed me they received my letter and will look into it. I hope they follow through and the park gets cleaned up.
On Nextdoor, I have not heard one negative response to my issues with the Heroes Memorial Park, and there have been very many comments posted many volunteering to help clean up the park ourselves if the city does not get it done. Additionally, and more importantly, all the veterans who responded stated that having the memorial next to the water treatment is a slap in the face to them.
They all want to see the Hero's Memorial Park relocated. I wholeheartedly agree. Even if the park gets cleaned up, which it should be immediately, it needs to be relocated to a place of honor in our Central Park at Town Center, where all who go there would see it and know that Palm Coast honors the service of our men and women who sacrifice for their peace, safety and freedom.
It is my intention to launch a citywide campaign to make that happen. Of course you all can save me and others a lot of time and energy by beginning to pursue that as our city leaders. (You might also diffuse some of the angst over the proposed ordinance to increase City Council and mayor's salaries.)
I will enlist the help of veterans, churches and civic organizations to circulate petitions to demand that Heroes Memorial Park be relocated to the Central Park at Town Center.
My hope is not to stir up controversy but rather to demonstrate a cooperative effort on behalf of our citizens and our city government to provide a place of honor for those who have served this city and our country. Central Park at Town Center is the perfect place to do that.
I will start the process of circulating a petition during this week and next. I hope that it's not needed. The ball is in your court, gentlemen. I have engaged in battles before. I don't want to battle again but, if need be I will. Will you return the serve or wait for another volley? It's your choice.