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Veterans park to add new area of brick markers
Lyman Coker plots out how part of a new area of engraved brick markers with veterans’ names might look at Rock Creek Veterans Park in Gainesville. Looking on, from left, are Richard Wiley, Jerry Peck and Harvey Black.

Ordering a brick
For those interested in honoring a loved one who has served in the military with an engraved brick, contact Harvey Black at 770-654-1323 or Jerry Peck at 678-997-5601. Donations of $20 per brick will be accepted.

With a pencil in hand, Lyman Coker traced in the hardened sand the possible borders of a marker that would give words to an otherwise somber scene — bricks engraved with the names of area military men and women.

“We’re coming up with some good freedom quotes,” Coker said.

“It’s all about the freedom we enjoy and the price that was paid for that freedom — where young people can walk up here and understand the freedom they enjoy comes with a cost.”

The new bricked-in area represents the next project in a series of improvements an informal group of Vietnam War veterans is making to Rock Creek Veterans Park off West Academy Street and Northside Drive in Gainesville.

The vets have set a concrete barrier and filled it in with two tons of sand. The plan is to lay 900-plus bricks, honoring those fallen in battle and peacetime.

So far, the group has nearly 200 bricks at the ready. Members will be working to get area residents to order the remaining bricks, with a dedication of the new area by Nov. 11,
or Veterans Day.

“There’s another way how the community can help us complete this project,” said Harold Goss, another of the group’s members, “and that is for the local churches to be involved.

“A lot of these individuals we’re looking for are in cemeteries. Churches can go out there and help us capture that information and provide it to us.”

The park, which began years ago as a gateway to a string of parks connecting downtown Gainesville to Lake Lanier, has been transformed into a series of monuments and bricked-in areas honoring the U.S. military.

The veterans plan to add another area of inlaid bricks, opposite from and mirroring the one now being built among the park’s trees, walkways and benches. More landscaping also is planned, the veterans said.

Eventually, the veterans would like to add an archway at the park’s entrance off West Academy Street.

But for now, it’s one step at a time, with veterans looking next to assemble a group of flags representing the military branches and place them in a circular area.

Goss said he believes the area’s many active veterans groups should work together on the effort.

“We have veterans in the school system, police and fire departments, and in government positions,” he said. “We need to get our community involved in this project.”