Land where former American Legion hut stood in Burlington will be used as memorial to veterans
It may not be much to look at right now. But a veterans memorial that’s going up at Burlington’s Willowbrook Park will ultimately serve as the visual centerpiece for a new arboretum that’s in the works at this 11-acre site.
This “Veterans Overlook” is currently under construction on the grounds of a former American Legion post, which had been a fixture at South Church Street’s juncture with West Willowbrook Drive for the better part of nine decades.
In 2017, the nonprofit New Leaf Society purchased the post and its grounds to construct a gateway for the new arboretum, whose development it has spearheaded on the city’s behalf. Although the organization went on to have the post razed, it decided to erect the aforementioned veterans memorial to recognize the American Legion’s longstanding presence in that location.
The New Leaf Society eventually convened a committee of local veterans to design this prospective memorial. The society also commissioned the services of a landscape architect to create an “uplifting” monument to “serve as an entrance to and a focal point for the arboretum.”
According to the New Leaf Society, the veterans committee decided that the memorial should honor all veterans and not merely the ones who had perished in combat. To this end, the society enlisted Burlington native Ed Walker to cast a bronze sculpture of an American eagle as it prepares to take off from a pentagonal perch engraved with the official seals of each major branch of the military.
“The veterans overlook will feature the sculpture in the center of a large patio with the flags of the United States and North Carolina on each side,” the New Leaf Society goes on to add in a news release about the memorial. “Visitors will enter the arboretum through the Veterans Overlook…[which] is to be built on the highest elevation in the park.”
Although the sculpture remains wrapped in an opaque sheet as the patio’s construction continues, the memorial has already started to generate some positive chatter from park goers, according to Taylor Moser with TCM Design.
“The response from everyone has been very, very positive for the Veterans Overlook,” Moser recently told The Alamance News, “and a lot of the donations so far have come in from people who have served in the military.”
As with much of the $2.5 million that has gone into the arboretum’s development, the New Leaf Society has relied on private donations to cover the cost of the Veterans Overlook. The group continues to accept contributions for the memorial and intends to inscribe the names of those who donate $5,000 or more into the patio’s structure.
Donors are encouraged to mail contributions to the New Leaf Society at P.O. Box 4083; Burlington, NC 27215-0901.