"You know, the time is right. We've got people desecrating the American Flag, high-dollar football players refusing to stand for the National Anthem, a President that's really standing up for the country, and Veterans Day coming up...the timing couldn't be any better for something like this All of this - I've done all of this myself." says 80 year old Air Force Veteran, Bud Byers. "One day I just said, 'I'm going to do this.' I started with one flagpole with an American Flag, North Carolina State Flag, and an MIA Flag from the Vietnam War, and it just grew and grew...I sat up late at night and drew the figures and I just did it the way I planned it."
And what a magnificent job he did! The location, on Tiney Road, couldn't be more inspirational with the rolling hills of Ellenboro cradling the perfectly manicured site. A brisk breeze brings to life dozens of flags representing every branch of the military and many of their unique divisions. Life size silhouettes depicting war heroes align the road and are accented with flowering rose bushes. It is the culmination of two years of a steady and faithful 'labor of love.' "I built it myself, and I never got tired." said Byers.
A sense of pride is clearly visible on the faces of his neighbors as they drive by admiring the grandeur of the memorial. "There have been a lot of dignitaries here; the Governor, US Congressman, all the elected officials in the county, our district attorney, sheriff, clerk of court (who oversees veterans affairs), representatives of our local Honor Guard, school children and even boy scout troops" says Byers. "We've held ceremonies here." Byers continued, "The first thing I do in the morning, is come out to get my paper and I take a walk through the memorial to make sure everything is okay- that nothing has happened during the night." One morning Mr. Byers found two miniature figures left there overnight. "I've never found out who left them, but I built a plot for those too. Some people who've visited asked if they could make a donation. I've never taken a donation, but I have accepted flags that represented their loved ones area of service. I've also included flags to honor those who are serving our community right here at home. I've got a flag for the Sheriff's Department, EMS, Police and Firefighters."
Not only did Mr. Byers build and maintain the site, he also knows just about everything there is to know about those his memorial honors. "I read everything I can," he says, as he cites statistics and tells war stories. He shares his wealth of information with any who come and was quick to rectify an oversight when a female veteran came by. "As you can see, I added a female soldier there - she is smaller but just as revered."
Mr. Byers personally invites everyone to come by and visit the Veteran's Memorial. The address is 1466 Tiney Road, Ellenboro. The sea of flags blowing in the cool autumn breeze represent the best of mankind, including it's designer. A familiar quote, embroidered on Mr. Byers hat, "All Gave Some - Some Gave All" sums it up. You will never be forgotten. Patriots, like Charles 'Bud' Byers, will see to that!
See page 7 for more photos.