Gleason Wall Memorializes Loved Ones
BY JASON MARTIN
GLEASON (September 2) — In an afternoon of joyous memories sprinkled with tears, the Gleason Downtown Revitalization Committee (GDRC) dedicated the memorial wall in Mike Snider Park. The hour long ceremony provided insight into the project and told of how important it was to set Gleason’s history in stone.
The wall is approximately 80-feet long lined with flower boxes on the outer sides and center portion. Three sections of the
Photo by Jason Martin/The Banner Wall
wall are in-laid with black granite stones serving as memorials for family members and others who contributed to the success of Gleason’s longevity. At the center of the wall is a section reserved for those who served in the military.
A large bronze plaque was placed on a center pillar in honor of Ken Eason. Eason was the chief of police for many years in Gleason until his untimely passing.
Charles Anderson, president of the GDRC, welcomed the crowded with Jeff Hazlewood leading the opening prayer. Steve Jones, a veteran of the United States Air Force, honored those who served with a speech about patriotism and sacrifice.
Rolling Thunder, Chapter VI, under the direction of Jim Phelps presented the “Missing Man Table Ceremony.” The rounded table set with six places represents the five branches of service: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard with the sixth seat representing the civilians who like their military cohorts gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Each item on the table has a symbolic meaning from the white table cloth representing the purity of servitude to the single red rose standing for the blood that may have been shed protecting the freedom of the United States.
Anderson thanked members of the GDRC for their hard work in bringing the wall to fruition. A special thank you was given to Darrell Bell who took the lead in the masonry portion of the wall. Ross Chandler was recognized for his work in raising the 40-foot flag pole.
As key features and contribution were addressed about the wall, AirEvac provided a helicopter flyover showing their support for the City of Gleason.
Jim Johnson reminded the audience of the importance of community. Jim’s father, J.B. was an intricate part of the Gleason community after WWII. In 1957, J.B., an assistant cashier at the bank, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed just four months later. During this time period, the Bank of Gleason under the direction of Bob Owen, M.E. Fanning and Carl Parks paid his salary while he was unable to work. This kept food on the table for the family with 3 young boys to feed.
Following his death, the family matriarch, Sally, decided to move the boys and herself to Michigan. Claude Steele came to the house one day and generously offered the use one of his sweet potato trucks to move the family to Michigan. He did what he said he would do refusing to take any form of payment.
Jim indicated that those two examples, along with many other acts of kindness shown by others during the difficult time, not only represent how caring and supportive the people of Gleason were back in the middle to late 1950’s but how caring and supportive they still are today.
The event closed with a benediction from Jacky Esch.
The wall began in April of 2016 following the approval of the Gleason City Board. A ground breaking ceremony took place in May of 2016 with soil excavation following after few weeks. Boral Bricks Inc. donated over 8,000 bricks. Bob Hoskins, Randy Kent and Randy Stafford helped in the digging and pouring of the footing.
Photos by Jason Martin/The Banner