Walk into any classroom on Craven Community College’s (Craven CC) Havelock campus and you are likely to find a veteran—more often, you’ll find a classroom full of veterans.
Craven CC has an unmistakable connection to the military community that ranges from the student population and aviation program, to the campus’ proximity to MCAS Cherry Point. Hoping to show appreciation for that connection, several members of the administration came up with an idea to display service flags at the center of campus. That idea grew over time and expanded into a much larger dream that has come to fruition on Craven CC’s Havelock campus as Veterans Memorial Park.
Craven CC will host a dedication ceremony for the new park at its Havelock campus beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s amazing to see that we’re finally here,” said Wally Calabrese, Havelock dean of learning and operations. “We have a great relationship with the base and this park shows how much we appreciate our veterans, their family members and all they do for us.”
Veterans Memorial Park found its momentum in April when officials expanded the project into a scholarship fundraising campaign that uses engraved bricks to recognize veterans and active duty personnel. Entitled “Remembering Our Past by Paving Our Future,” this fundraising campaign allows individuals, families, companies and organizations to order bricks engraved with specific names or messages and then have those bricks placed in the park. Proceeds from the fundraising campaign will establish an endowment to support a veteran-affiliated student scholarship fund for curriculum or workforce development students at Craven Community College.
Veterans Memorial Park opens Thursday with an initial placement of approximately 200 bricks and nearly $20,000 in funds to establish the endowment.
“This program is a win for our veterans and for the college,” said Charles Wethington, Craven CC executive director of institutional advancement. “The park offers a beautiful venue to see how important veterans are to our mission at the college and the foundation. This program also allows us to honor our veterans with a scholarship that provides them opportunities to pursue new dreams and goals that reach beyond the service they have already given.”
In addition to the engraved bricks, Veterans Memorial Park includes a stone sitting wall and flagpoles that will represent all five branches of the military, prisoners of war (POW) and those missing in action (MIA).
“It’s a combination of ideas,” said Calabrese. “Ultimately, we wanted something that would look nice, be inviting and honor our veterans.”
While the dedication ceremony is planned tomorrow, the central quad of Craven CC’s Havelock campus looked like a construction site just a week ago. Gray dust clouds engulfed workers from J&S Landscaping as they sawed through stones that would build the sitting wall. Cement was poured. Five flagpoles were dropped into place. The bricks were carefully installed.
The park seems complete, but there’s still more work to be done.
“We still have some blank pavers that people can buy,” added Calabrese. “We’ll keep taking orders for those and install them each year or every 100 bricks, whichever happens first.”
New bricks will still be available for purchase after Thursday’s dedication at https://www.bricksrus.com/order/cravencommunitycollege/.
The dedication ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. and includes a musical ensemble, playing of the National Anthem, an honor guard representing each branch of the military and POW/MIA service members, a ribbon cutting and service hymns. Special guests include Craven CC President Ray Staats and Marine Corps Maj. Gens. Tom Braaten and Michael Sullivan. Sullivan also served as chairman for the “Remembering Our Past by Paving Our Future” campaign. Light refreshments will follow.
All events related to Thursday’s dedication are free, open to the public and will take place at Craven Community College’s Havelock campus, located at 305 Cunningham Boulevard. In the event of rain, Thursday’s ceremony will be moved to Thursday, Dec. 7.
For more information call Calabrese at 252-444-0739.
This article appeared in the Nov. 8, 2017 edition of the New Bern Sun Journal.