Vietnam vet wants memorial to honor all veteransJune 12, 2018
By LEANN BURKE
FERDINAND — For about 20 years, Leon Weyer of Ferdinand has been wondering what to do with a strip of land on the town’s north side that he inherited from his father. Now, he thinks he has the answer.
Weyer, a veteran of the Marine Corps, wants to build a veterans’ memorial on the tiny property near Pine Drive and visible from State Road 162. About two years ago, he began working with the Ferdinand American Legion, where he’s a member, and Seufert Construction on making the memorial a reality. Recently, the Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce came on board with the project, wanting to include a welcome sign near the memorial since motorists on State Road 162 will pass it on their way into town from the north.
“It’s kind of a special thing for the veterans,” Weyer said of the project. “It means a lot to me.”
Weyer served in the Vietnam War, enlisting in 1966 right out of high school. He figured if he didn’t go then, sooner or later he’d get drafted. He served about six months in Vietnam before a booby trap caught him. He spent the next nine months recuperating in Navy hospitals, first in Japan and then in Illinois. Though he’s proud of his service, answering whether or not he’s glad he enlisted is difficult.
“You go through a lot, and you see a lot,” he said. “It’s something you never forget.”
For Weyer, the memorial is a way to honor those who, like him, offered to sacrifice for their country. Current plans for the memorial show a long, narrow structure with a large stone with words of thanks for veterans, five smaller stones for each branch of the military and three flags on the property — the U.S. flag, the Indiana flag and the black flag for prisoners of war and those missing in action. Visitors will be able to park on the street behind the memorial and walk through it.
The plans aren’t finalized yet, and the cost estimate is still in the works, but Weyer has started collecting donations from people who want to see the memorial come to fruition. To donate, people can contact Weyer at 812-367-1852 or the American Legion at 812-367-1241. The Legion will set up a fund earmarked for the project.
Weyer estimates that Ferdinand — a town with a population of about 2,200 — has over 300 veterans. The American Legion, he said, has about 250 members on its own, and the town also has a Veterans of Foreign Wars post. But the memorial isn’t just for Ferdinand’s veterans, Weyer said.
“It’s for all veterans,” Weyer said. “I think it’ll set the tone as you come into town.”
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