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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Dade City WWII memorial to be refurbished

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DADE CITY — Reading “The Greatest Generation,” a bestseller on the World War II generation by former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, had a profound effect on Dan Johnson.

“Stop and think what would have happened had they not won that war,” said Johnson, a former Pasco assistant county administrator who read the book three years after its 1998 publishing. “We owe everything we have today to them — to those veterans and that generation.”

That is why he has made it his mission to see that the World War II Memorial in Dade City gets refurbished.

Johnson, county officials and members of the Dade City community have plans on rededicating the monument next June — 60 years after it was first presented in honor of those who served in World War II.

The memorial is part of a bandstand on the northeast corner of the Historic Pasco County Courthouse square. The monument encompasses 14 quarter-inch thin Masonite panels on which 1,855 names are painted. The panels are showing their age, growing increasingly faded and crumbling behind sheets of Plexiglas.

The project, estimated to cost $40,000 to $50,000, will replace the dilapidated hand-painted Masonite plywood with new granite slabs etched with each veteran’s name.

The memorial was first dedicated on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.

“It’s a debt that we can never truly repay and this is just a small token,” Johnson said.

The county is currently reaching out to community members to ensure the names have the proper spelling. This effort, approved in late May, has already turned up two names that were missing from the memorial, said Andrew Baxter, acting facility management director for the county.

A bid will be put out in November and a contract will be awarded in the first half of January.

With 1,855 names to be inscribed, Baxter said that work alone could take about four months to complete.

“A lot of those veterans who served, they’re already passed on,” Baxter said. “We feel very strongly that we’d like to get these ... re-done so that it can honor those veterans who still are alive and whose names are there. That way they can attend and see their name is now in a more permanent manner and recognized for the future.”

The current wooden panels will be carefully removed and donated to one of the local historic societies.

Pasco County will match any funds raised up to $25,000, while Dade City will match funds up to $15,000.

Johnson, who reviewed a fund-raising report recently, said only $5,175 in private donations have been raised.

“I’m surprised,” he said. “I thought we’d be able to raise more than that.”

Donations for the memorial are still being accepted. Cash donations must be made in person, while checks can be mailed to either the Dade City or New Port Richey offices of the Pasco County Clerk. Credit card donations can be done in person or by phone.

The list of names to be engraved can be found on the county’s website at the following link: www.pascocountyfl.net/DocumentCenter/View/12517. The county asks family members and the public to help verify the spelling of the names. If you have any questions or have updates to the names, contact Dan Wilson, Facilities Management Department, at 727-834-3292.

Listed are the donation sites and numbers:

♦ Office of Paula S. O’Neil, Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller

Financial Services Division

East Pasco Government Center

14236 Sixth St., Suite 201

Dade City, FL 33525

(352) 521-4542

♦ Office of Paula S. O’Neil, Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller

Official Records Division

West Pasco Government Center

7530 Little Road, Suite 220

New Port Richey, FL 34654

(727) 847-8031

edaniels@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1860

Twitter: @EDanielsTBO

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