Proctorville Plaza to honor soldiers

Published 11:36 am Friday, October 17, 2008

PROCTORVILLE — Dean Cooper was one of those who came back home. Not everyone did.

Trapped in bunkers during the firestorms of the Korean War, Cooper, an Army man, saw so many die fighting for America’s freedom.

Now, Cooper wants to pay tribute to all those men and women, no matter the war, who gave their lives for their country.

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What he has in mind is a Memorial Plaza behind the VFW Post 6878 in Proctorville where he a senior vice commander.

There will be terrace with a fountain at one end and brick wall with a dedication to all those soldiers with small brick walls on the sides with the insignias of all the armed services.

Flagpoles with the American, Ohio and POW flags will grace the plaza that will be surrounded by a walking track.

The design is the brainchild of Gary Tillis.

“I came up with (the idea of doing ) this a couple of months ago. I wanted to do something,” Cooper said. “I spent 15 months underground in Korea. I know what it is like over there. You don’t know what war is like until you’ve been there. If you sit and imagine how they are living … they aren’t living. They are existing. You don’t know. They give up their lives for us.”

Right now, Cooper is taking contributions for the project, which he expects to be built partly with contractors and partly with labor from the members of the Proctorville VFW Post.

It was the efforts of the 160 men at the Post that built the current clubhouse off Route 7. There on the second Saturday of every month from 7 to 11 a.m. the Post offers a homemade-all you can eat breakfast to the community for $5 a person.

This isn’t the first time Cooper has worked on building a lasting remembrance for those who serve their country. At the Lawrence County Fairgrounds nearby there are flags that stand to honor all who have served. By the entrance is a statue of a war dog, that Cooper affectionately calls General Patton, to remember service dogs who fought along side their masters, often left at the scene of battles to be slaughtered by others.

Contributions to the memorial for the fallen war dead can be sent to VFW Post 6878, P.O. Box 1139, Proctorville, OH 45669.

“If it wasn’t for those guys, we wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Cooper said. “I appreciate America.”