By Donnette Plant
May 25, 2015, will mark a significant day in history for the City of Trussville. The long-awaited Trussville Veteran’s Memorial located in Civitan Park at the corner of Parkway Drive and Hwy. 11 will be dedicated. There are currently 228 names inscribed on the memorial.
We citizens of Trussville have always been proud of our veterans. During World War II, a billboard style display of all active soldiers was proudly displayed on West Mall where the city’s Christmas tree stands today. As the war progressed, names were added, and casualties were recorded. Over time, the billboard came down, and there was no longer a place dedicated to honoring our veterans.
Around 2007, lifelong resident and Trussville Historical Board Chairwoman Venie Lee Payne shared her vision of a Veteran’s Memorial with Mayor Gene Melton. The mayor agreed to work with her and the historical board in seeing her vision to fruition. Mrs. Payne’s original plan was small, but with the mayor’s help, her ideas were incorporated into the city’s Greenways Project which is being paid for with state and federal funds.
Mrs. Payne’s dream of the Veteran’s Memorial was close to her heart and with good reason. Her husband, H.B. Payne served his country as a sergeant in the 276th Combat Engineers in the European Theater of War. Wounded in combat on the Bridge at Remagen, he was discharged in 1945. He later received the Presidential Citation as well as the Purple Heart.
The Paynes remained in contact with his comrades in arms and attended reunions until his death in 2011. Mrs. Payne was so proud of Mr. Payne’s service and the service of all other military personnel with Trussville connections that she wanted to provide a place dedicated to honoring them.
So as chairwoman of the Trussville Historical Board, she led the endeavor to erect a memorial to honor all veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Though it was a huge undertaking for such a small group, Mrs. Payne worked tirelessly raising the funds to see it completed. She traveled to several organizations to solicit donations and spoke to them about the importance of honoring veterans who gave their lives and their service to ensure that we all have the freedoms we enjoy today. Mrs. Payne was even awarded a grant through Jefferson State Community College to help with the building of the monument.
To everyone’s surprise, the monument became a reality, and in September of 2009, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in the Civitan Park. Mrs. Payne got to see the monument built before she passed away in February 2013. Mr. Payne had fallen in love with a fighter years ago, and he knew that even after he was gone, she would continue the fight to honor all veterans as long as she lived. And she did.
Although the memorial has taken a little longer to complete than Mrs. Payne expected, it has been well worth the wait. Albert Pike once said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” That is what Mrs. Payne would want everyone to remember about the men and women who have served our country, many of them paying the ultimate price for our freedom.
The City of Trussville and the Trussville Historical Board will dedicate the Trussville Veteran’s Memorial on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25 at 10:00 a.m. The event is open to the public. Parking for the ceremony will be available at Trussville City Hall and Trussville Utilities on Hwy 11, and at Holy Cross Episcopal Church located at the corner of Parkway Drive and Meadow Lane. Handicap parking will be reserved at Trussville Utilities. A reception with light refreshments will follow.