Last week, we began looking at the World War II Servicemen’s Memorial Board that was constructed on the Courthouse Square to honor those who were fighting and dying across the world. We continue with that discussion today.

According to a photograph, of which I have a second-hand copy, the painting of the service members’ names was well underway by August 1944 (at least that’s what the handwritten note on it says). The Memorial Board would have been finished not long thereafter, and stood as a reminder of those citizens who were serving their country. It remained as a proud reminder of Suwannee County’s contribution to the war effort for several years. A 1948 photograph that I have shows it prominently displayed on the south side of the Courthouse.

By 1953, however, the Memorial Board had become an eyesore. The minutes of the April 18 County Commission meeting show that Mrs. G. A. Lee appeared before the Board to request that the Memorial Board be removed from the Courthouse lawn. The Board discussed the problem with Mrs. Lee and assured her that they would do something about the board “within the next few days.”

It appears that something was eventually done with the Memorial Board, if nothing more than to paint over the presumably faded names of the County’s veterans. Eight years after the end of World War II, a December 11, 1953, Suwannee Democrat noted that the board (which “formerly contained the names of Suwannee County’s war dead”) had been repainted and the County Commissioners were looking to use it for advertising space. How soon people forget the sacrifices of our servicemen and women…

By 1955, the Memorial Board (if in name only at this point) was in need of painting again, as the April 5 County Commission minutes show that the Chamber of Commerce requested that the Board appropriate $300 for the painting. The Board agreed to the request, but it was not stated what would be painted upon the Board, if anything.

The April 5, 1955, minutes were the last time I have found the Memorial Board mentioned in County Commission minutes. According to photographs in the possession of the Clerk’s Office, it was gone by 1964, when major renovations and additions were made to the Courthouse. More mature folks (“oldtimers” to be politically incorrect) have told me over the years that the Memorial Board had become rotten and was torn down.

Suwannee County’s WWII veterans would have to wait several decades until those who died in service to their country were honored with a memorial at Veterans’ Park, northwest of the Courthouse. The memorial stands today as a reminder of their sacrifice. Discussions have been held over the years to honor all World War II veterans, but nothing has as of yet come to fruition to replace the Memorial Board that sat prominently upon the Courthouse Square for a decade.

More veterans’ history next week.

Eric Musgrove can be reached at ericm@suwgov.org or 386-362-0564.

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