By Clellie Allen
ROLESVILLE — Around 70 townsfolk, including some two dozen veterans, joined Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles, town commissioners and staff to dedicate the first permanent veterans memorial in Rolesville Friday morning.
The simple, but arresting, polished granite marker has the seals of all five branches of service — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It is located, along with a flag pole, in the heart of Rolesville’s old downtown, at the intersection of Main and Young streets.
“I wanted us to have a veterans memorial,” Eagles told those gathered. “Rolesville needs to have one. The message to our local veterans is that they’re thought of and that they’re honored,” he said.
Eagles related that originally, Town Manager Bryan Hicks was looking at places like Main Street Park for a memorial place. But then Puffs, which was located at the intersection, went out of business, the building was removed and the highly visible corner became the ideal location.
“We decided this was the perfect place — right in the heart of downtown,” said Eagles.
Ron Bartholomew, of Rolesville-based Wake Monument Company, designed and carved the marker for the town.
“I asked for it by Memorial Day and Wednesday, it was put in,” Eagles said.
Eagles can speak about veterans affairs with personal knowledge as he served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1969.
“I was lucky. I didn’t get sent to Vietnam,” he said. “I got sent to the Everglades in Florida to watch Castro. Two of us out of a whole basic training outfit did that. Everyone else went to Ft. Benning, Ga., and then to Vietnam.”
“They’re real heroes,” he said.
It’s clear that the memorial already means a great deal to some in the community.
As the dedication ceremony ended and most folks left, Rolesville resident Melissa Leuice walked up to the marker, clutching a memorial flag in a zippered case — the kind surviving relatives are given at a military funeral — and a small flag with a note attached.
She took a few moments to herself to stand and look at the monument before Rolesville Fire Chief Rodney Privette came over and quietly helped her put her flag into the ground in front of the granite marker.
As she grieved, Leuice told Privette her husband, former Vietnam veteran Lee R. Leuice, III, had died in October of 2014, at the age of 62, from complications related to the use of defoliant Agent Orange.
Her small memorial read, “In loving memory of Lee R. Leuice, III ... You are loved and missed. May you rest in peace.”