Time had taken its toll on the World War II monument in front of Milliken & Co.’s plant on Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville.
Inscriptions are legible, but the years had put dirt and grime on the rock’s facade and edges. Leafy branches from a thick oak had swallowed part of the rusting flag pole behind it.
John Brady, a Clermont councilman who is president-elect of the Clermont/North Hall Lions Club, had driven by the stone block many times. But he decided one day to take a closer look — not knowing why the monument was there or what it was for.
“I saw how ... it needed to be cleaned up,” he said.
Brady talked to Lions Club members and then Roger Keebaugh, past commander of American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7, about cleaning up the monument in the New Holland community.
They met Wednesday afternoon to tackle the project, along with Vince Vore of the Lions Club and Charles Brown, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8452.
Milliken furnished the equipment to pressure wash the monument, and Northeast Georgia Rentals provided a lift that enabled workers to saw away tree limbs. The group also planned to paint the flagpole.
“We’re going to get it cleaned up for Memorial Day,” Brady said.
The monument, erected in 1947, pays tribute to World War II veterans but particularly New Holland residents who paid “the ultimate sacrifice.”
Pacolet Manufacturing Co. operated the textile mill at the time of the monument’s placement and had been at the location for several decades. When the mill was established in the early 20th century, it was considered the largest in Georgia.
The once heavily residential area is now surrounded by medical offices and schools. Jesse Jewell is a busy four-lane road that serves as a main Gainesville artery.
Brown said he was surprised to learn about the monument and the condition it was in.
“I didn’t know anything about it until (Tuesday),” he said.
Keebaugh said the American Legion will place a wreath on the monument for Memorial Day.
“If you look at the names on here, there are a lot of streets in Gainesville that are named after these people,” he said. “These are familiar names.”