American Legion Post 226

FNB Coweta President Mike Lyles, left, presents American Legion Post 226 Commander Shawn Fitzgerald with a $5,000 donation to help construct the American Legion 100th Centennial Memorial in Coweta. Joining hem for the presentation are Legion members, from left, Don Parrish, Benny Parkerson, Robbie Morton, Mike Walker, Ronee Jordan, Steve Garman, Debra Fortune and Eddie Bowman. CHRISTY WHEELAND/AMERICAN-TRIBUNE

The American Legion 100th Centennial Memorial in Coweta is one step closer to being constructed thanks to a generous contribution from Wagoner County’s oldest locally owned financial institution.

Last week, FNB Coweta made a $5,000 donation to American Legion Post 226 to help with the project. Post Finance Officer Robbie Morton said it’s the largest one-time donation made for the memorial to date.

“When we first became aware that the Legion was raising money for it, we were very interested in being a part of it. We believe strongly in honoring the veterans,” FNB Coweta President Mike Lyles said. “I am really pleased that our board of directors and bank employees are excited to support the fundraising effort.”

“We have been a local bank since 1903 and we need to be involved in this. I’m glad we could do it!” he continued. “When we’ve been here for 116 years worth of customers in Coweta, it is the right thing to do.”

In all, the Legion’s 100th Centennial Memorial will cost approximately $120,000 to build. The first part of the monument, dedicated in September, carried a price tag of $10,000 and has been paid for through brick sales and the organization’s general fund.

The “Coweta Sons” portion of the project, dedicated to Coweta’s Eight who died in Vietnam and to the community’s two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, will cost approximately $17,500.

“The big expenses are the things you don’t see,” Morton said. “You see our brick structure, but we have to do demo work to get there. We need to bring in reinforced concrete and then lay bricks. There are also underlying expenses such as electrical work, some plumbing and sidewalk work.

Post 226 member Mike Walker has been instrumental in the fundraising process. He said a groundbreaking will be held for the memorial sometime after the first of the year.

The first things to be installed include the American Legion stone that was dedicated this fall, the footings and the brick pavers that have already been ordered. The second phase will be the veterans wall.

Once all funding is in place, it should take approximately 120 days to complete from start to finish.

“The memorial paver sales have gone really well, they’ve just slowed down,” Walker noted.

“With the Christmas season and Veterans Day coming up, we want to start sales up again,” Morton added. “We’re at 200 bricks sold, but we’d like to get that number up to 300. Corporate sponsors are also much needed.”

Walker said there are some interesting facts about the veterans memorial that many do not know:

* Of Coweta’s Eight, most graduated from the Coweta Class of 1967. That particular granite piece is 67 inches tall to commemorate the Class of 67 and eight inches thick.

* Each photo of Coweta’s Eight service members will have a three-dimensional look as they stand out from the memorial 1/4 of an inch. The photos will be those chosen by each individual family.

* The center photo on the memorial will represent the mother or wife who received a folded American flag in honor and memory of her son or husband.

* The base of the memorial is 12 feet long by 12 inches high and 14 inches deep. Words inscribed across the bottom are “Your Valor, Your Sacrifice and Your Memory Will Forever Live in Us. Greater love hath no man than this, that man lay down his life for his friends.”

For more information on how to support the American Legion 100th Centennial Memorial project or to purchase a brick or paver, contact Mike Walker at 918-728-5833.