Remembering Those Who Have Bravely Served

Posted on | May 23, 2012 | No Comments

With Memorial Day approaching, we remember those who have so bravely served and defended our country. I wanted to share this story of one of our Participants in North Carolina Design that intersects with recognizing our Armed Forces on a local level.

Often the clients of Michael McMillan, owner of MCM Construction Management, are homeowners looking for a custom home, remodel, a dream kitchen or an addition, but in 2011, it was the town of Cornelius that engaged Michael’s services. Last fall, MCM completed construction of the Cornelius Veteran’s Monument. This job wasn’t business as usual for Michael – it was personal. Not only is Michael a builder, he was a member of the Gulf War Navy Reserves Construction Battalion, “Sea-Bees.” His uncle is also a survivor of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. For him it was humbling to build a memorial to that recognized Cornelius residents who have served honorably in the Armed Forces.

The town of Cornelius held a design contest for the monument, and landscape architect Gary Fankhauser and his wife Alais won. Michael became involved when they asked him personally to bid on the construction of the monument and the MCM Construction team won the bid. “We were honored to have been selected and to be a part of this living monument,” says Michael. “Gary and Alias are very talented and great to work with. I enjoyed seeing their vision come to life.”

Built to last, the memorial site features 16 solid granite walls inscribed with the names of veterans. There are 6 pre-cast columns recognizing the 6 branches of the military. It’s also specially designed to engage the community. “We built the memorial without fencing as a sort of outdoor room, a communal gathering place – rather than a single freestanding monument,” Michael explains. “There’s seating, flag poles and a stage for events.”

The site is a living memorial, and features the names of any veteran who served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Merchant Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard, was honorably discharged, and lived in Cornelius for any length of time – going all the way back to those who fought in the Civil War. “There are over 1200 total names, with space to add more,” Michael notes. “Seeing those names go up on the wall was an emotional, humbling thing. I am very proud of what we’ve created, and what it means for Cornelius veterans, their families and the town itself.”

We salute Michael and all those everywhere who have bravely served, and continue to serve. “We need to remember that ‘freedom is not free,’” says Michael. “This monument surely recognizes our heroes and what they sacrificed.”

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