One man in Easton has gotten some help in making a long standing goal of his come true.
Christopher Blockburger said he was raised in the small city north of Leavenworth, coming back after serving almost 20 years in the U.S. Army.
Since the time of his service, the idea to build a veterans memorial in Easton has also taken on a personal dimension, with Blockburger having spent time at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.,and then Munson Army Health Center at Fort Leavenworth following a deployment, suffering from an injury to his back and post traumatic stress disorder.
“It's kind of a way to deal with my PTSD and give back to the community,” he said of the memorial.
He started on the memorial in January with little more than a small plot of land across County Road 21 from Easton City Park. Then he started asking local veterans service organizations and civic groups to help out. By February, a month after breaking ground, Blockburger said he had many of the current features began to take shape, including the three flagpoles, two small statues, a walkway, 24-hour lighting and benches at the site.
Much of the work has been done with the help and donations of local businesses, veterans service organizations, civic groups, the city of Easton and various individuals who gave time or services to make the project a reality.
“I was really surprised at how quickly it came together,” Blockburger said. “It was really amazing, the outpouring of people who wanted to help.”
Dallas Eubanks, the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 56, said the group agreed to donate to the memorial because of the way the project fit with their mission to serve veterans even outside of the city of Leavenworth where they are based.
“We see kind of the whole county and the areas outside the county as part of our service area,” because of the organization's size, he said. “We usually reach out when we can for cities that want to recognize soldiers and their families.”
Eubanks is expected to be among a group of guests and dignitaries, which also includes State Rep. Melanie Meier and Fort Leavenworth Garrison Commander Col. Timothy Wulff, that Blockburger said will attend a public dedication ceremony for the memorial, currently scheduled for 3 p.m. July 4 at the site, 213 S. First St. in Easton.
The final piece of the memorial will be a commemorative stone currently being engraved by Byrd Memorial Company of Atchison, Kan.. Blockburger said donations for that stone are now being accepted directly by Byrd Memorial Company.
When completely finished, Blockburger said the memorial will likely serve for some time as a reminder to the Easton area of those who served ― he said he intends to maintain it for as long as he can, keeping it open for the community that helped make it a reality.
Page 2 of 2 - “It's a place of honor and remembrance,” Blockburger said. “It's for all veterans, all branches, past and present.”