WWII News Clippings 05
World War II plaque rededicated in Cliffside
Rutherford County News/Enterprise – Nov 16, 1994
By Jean Gordon
Patricia Barnes quietly made her way to the front of the World War II plaque, and laid a long-stemmed red rose at it base.
The rose was in memory of her father, Voyd Lee Ledford of Cliffside, whose name is among the 357 names of local World War II veterans engraved on the new commemorative plaque, which was re-dedicated Friday at the Cone Mills-owned property of the Haynes Memorial Clock Tower.
Barnes, of Cliffside, was among several hundred who braved a cold, windy Veterans Day to witness the unveiling of the plaque.
The 180 of the World War II veteran still living were invited to attend the ceremony, after which veterans, spouses, friends and other family members patiently took turns searching the plaque for names.
“Where is daddy’s name?” asked Vickie Williams of Rutherfordton, as she stepped to the memorial plaque and began to read the list. “Here it is, right here,” she said almost immediately. Then she reached for the hand of her father, World War II veteran Herbert Odell Smart, and guided him to the front of the commemorative plaque to see his name.
Frances White Richards traveled to Cliffside from Bald Knob, Arkansas, to attend Friday’s ceremony. A member of the WAC’s (Women’s Army Corp) during World War II. Richards left Cliffside in 1942 for the military service and later moved to Arkansas. The Veterans Day ceremony also marked a family reunion for Richards. Two of her brothers, Ishamel Joe “Shot” White of Cliffside and George White of Greenville, S.C., were also World War II veterans. Their names and the name of the third brother, Merdia A. White, who is deceased, are also engraved on the plaque.
Terry Hines, general manager of Cone Mills’ Rutherford County plants was among Cone officials who addressed the crowd.
Hines said the World War II plaque had its origin just after the war began. Hines said John Tinkler began writing the names, in a tablet, of Cliffside Mills’ employees and Cliffside are residents as they entered the military.
Charles Haynes, President of Cliffside Mills at the time found out about Tinkler’s list of names and suggested that Tinkler look into getting a plaque erected with the names of ones in the military, Hines said. The plaque was placed on the porch of the main office, next to the Cliffside Post Office, where it remained until 1962, when it was moved to the town’s American Legion Hut.
In 1971, after the Cliffside American Legion disbanded and the building was being vandalized, Cliffside resident Phillip White suggested to banker Paul Bridges (now deceased) that something needed to be done with the plaque before it was destroyed. Bridges moved it to a shed behind his house on N.C. 120, where it remained until a few months ago, when some of the veterans began inquiring about it.
After talking with Mrs. Bridges, the plaque was moved from the Bridges home to the Haynes Memorial Clock Tower property, where it was erected.
“It is my privilege on behalf of the Cliffside community to rededicate this plaque in honor of the men and women from this area who proudly served our country and fought for the freedom that we all enjoy today,” Hines said.
Forty-eighth District House Representative Jack Hunt, a former Cliffside resident, also addressed the veterans. “These are the best people here and it is the best community ever,” Hunt began. “If you ever live in Cliffside, you become a part of Cliffside and Cliffside becomes a part of you,” he said.
Rep. Hunt told the veterans that, before the United States inaugurated the first President or ratified the Constitution, even before the Declaration of Independence was written, the country “counted on our soldiers to defend America liberty.”
“On every Veterans Day, we remember our 116,000 American ‘doughboys’ who in World War I died on the battlefields of Europe.” Hunt said. “After all, Veterans Day was first called ‘Armistice Day’ and it was conceived as a tribute to the Americans who sacrificed their lives in that war,” he said.
“We honor our veterans from every period of peace, as well, for they protect and still protect the democracy for which our war veterans fought and died. Though their mission is to fight and win wars, they also provide emergency relief and humanitarian aid throughout the world,” Hunt continued.
Hunt said Friday was an appropriate day to pay special tribute to the american Veterans of World War II.
“Today about 9,000,000 American veterans of the war remain alive, more that half of those who served. this is our last opportunity to involve so many veterans of the war in a major commemoration of it,” Hunt said.
Hunt said the American veterans of World War II, like those who served before and after them, represent all races and ethnic groups. “They are men and they are women. They are of every creed and belief…they are your neighbor next door, the merchant at the mall and the police officer on the corner.” Hunt said. “They are a third of the 27 million Americans living today who have proudly worn their country’s military uniform,” Hunt continued.
“Some of our veterans are well known heroes who have received wide-spread acclaim, but most of them are not, he said. Most are just ordinary citizens who answered the call to duty when it came. They postponed their private lives, their peaceful pursuits of farm, factory and office. They poured all their talents and energy into becoming soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Often, the call to duty led them to war’s hardship, danger and death.”
Hunt said, “the tradition of the World war II veteran is the tradition of all american veterans. From Lexington and concord, that tradition has sustained us in every battle and every war, right up through Operation Desert Storm. It has marched with us and stood vigil with us in the frozen camps of Valley Forge, the steaming jungles of the Pacific rim, the bloody beaches of Normandy and the scorching sands of Saudi Arabia. In that tradition, young, inexperienced Americans become tough, experienced soldiers. They become veterans.
“In honoring American veterans of World War II, we honor all American veterans. For they were and are, made of the same stuff. They were and are, equally passionate in their patriotism and love of liberty.”
Before the unveiling of the plaque, county native Bud Willis, President of the Denim Division, Cone Mills Corp., said, “these veterans gave their all when it was required. We honor those who gave their best and brought honor to this community and country. The sacrifice you made has made our world and our country a better place to live. Cliffside gave its best, and sometimes Cliffside gave its all.”
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright owned by The Daily Courier. Clipping provided by Mack Hendrick.