CARY: 12-acre veterans park opens in time for Memorial Day - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Cary's 12-acre veterans park opens in time for Memorial Day

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An artist's rendering of the National Veterans Freedom Park in Cary. An artist's rendering of the National Veterans Freedom Park in Cary.
CARY, N.C. -

The National Veterans Freedom Park in Cary was dedicated this week, serving as a place that not only honors fallen vets but serves as a place where living veterans and their families can come to reflect.

Originally the veterans park was a relatively small space with a bronze memorial, granite tablet and a couple of flagpoles. Now, after nearly a decade, the spire monument rises in the distance with a circular area where people can sit and reflect away from the nearby traffic on Harrison Avenue.

The five branches of the United States military each raised a flag at the dedication ceremony Wednesday, christening the 12-acre park and it's monument at the northwest corner of Harrison Avenue and Cary Parkway.

The 90-foot spire is made of white granite quarried from Bethel, Vermont, and then cut and finished in Mt. Airy.

"I really wanted it to go off into infinity," explained Howard Meehan, who designed the monument. "I just wanted you to look at it and see it going up to the stars."

Brian Eli, who served 10 years in the Army doing tours of duty in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan as a black hawk helicopter pilot, said he was awestruck by the size of the memorial.

"I think of friends and acquaintances that I personally lost, and it certainly brought back thoughts of the hardships I faced with a lot of other people," Eli said.

Veleta Thomson came to the park Friday to think about her son, who is in the Army.

"It's just a beautiful place to sit and think about it all," Thomas said. "There's been a lot of planning, fundraising and efforts to get us to this point, and it's special."

Eli has four young children who he brought to the memorial. While they don't quite understand what it’s about, Eli said they are learning.

"They go in there and see the size of everything and start to recognize it's something important," Eli said. "So I feel very moved because I can connect with them about what I did and help them appreciate it."

The memorial has five sides representing the five branches of the military, and there are five plaques set in the ground, representing each service -- in the circle surrounding the monument, -- so that no one branch of the service has more prominence than any other.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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