Mercer County students raise $5,000 for Kentucky National Guard memorial

gkocher1@herald-leader.comNovember 11, 2013 

HARRODSBURG — Students at a Mercer County school raised $5,000 for a proposed Frankfort memorial that will honor fallen Kentucky National Guard members.

The formal presentation was made Monday during a Veterans Day program at King Middle School.

The school, with an enrollment of 674, took on a fundraising project after a traveling Vietnam War wall memorial came through town in late summer. Students, faculty and parents sold T-shirts.

The initial goal was $1,000, but when that was surpassed easily, the school shot for $5,000, teacher Jason Bryant said.

The memorial will be built at the entrance of Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort. Fundraising for the project started in 2008, and organizers hope to have the memorial built by this time next year. An estimated $700,000 is needed, however, said Joshua Witt, a volunteer for the memorial fund.

"If we had at least one school in each county that did the same thing as King Middle School, that memorial would be built in Frankfort to honor our fallen guardsmen," Witt said.

The National Guard holds a hallowed place in the hearts of Mercer Countians. A group of Mercer guardsmen known as the Harrodsburg Tankers fought on the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines during World War II. Many of them were captured by the Japanese and endured the Bataan Death March and other horrors as prisoners of war. Only 37 of the men survived the war; the last survivor died in early 2012 in Texas.

The Tankers and other veterans were remembered during Monday's program in the school gym.

"They sacrificed so much, so we need to give back," said eighth-grader Emmy Souder, 13.

Col. Charles Jones of the Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund said the contribution and demonstration of thanks were appreciated.

"I'm just in awe of what these young kids have done," Jones said.

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Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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