To say that Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends Association’s (GLVA) success over the past six years has been nothing short of miraculous is not hyperbole. A group started by just three retired veterans with a goal to help our local VFWs, American Legions, and other veterans organizations better serve our military service men and women has mushroomed into a vibrant and well-oiled machine.
The all-volunteer organization has raised a lot of money since its founding in 2017. The funds have gone toward purchasing various items for these posts, such as computers and a van to transport people to the VA hospital, expenses which they never could have covered from their dues and their own fundraising efforts. The Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends organization has raised this money primarily through their annual Golf Outing held on Veterans Day.
Now, GLVA is embarking on a mission to honor our veterans in another way. The first phase of this project has just been completed: a beautiful memorial reminiscent of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. For more details on the memorial you can read a recent article in the Hernando Sun: https://bit.ly/3P3XAio
As part of this lasting tribute to our veterans and to help cover the expenses of the memorial, GLVA has started a Memorial Brick program. These bricks will be part of the “Garden of Honor.”
Dicky Keane, a retired Air Force Sergeant who is spearheading this project, stated, “The purpose of the “Garden of Honor ” is to have people sit on the benches and reflect back on their current veterans, fellow veterans, and deceased veterans.”
This area will have a surface paved with 450 bricks when completed. Individuals, groups, or businesses can purchase a brick (or bricks) to honor friends or relatives who have served in the military. Each brick is red and approximately 4” x 8”. When you purchase the brick, you can have a laser-cut inscription put on it. You’ll have up to three lines consisting of twenty characters per line (including spaces and punctuation).
In the past year, the group has sold sixty bricks at $120 each. In addition to being able to pay tribute to a particular veteran (or veterans), those who purchase bricks will have their name listed in the Purchasers Honor Roll on the Glen Lakes Veterans and Friends website. There are so many people who are an important part of GLVA, both as members and donors, that it’s impossible to list them all. However, Keane wanted to recognize one particular individual who has gone “above and beyond the call of duty.”
Mike Cummings came up with the name “Garden of Honor” and devoted countless hours to the organization, including maintaining their website. “I call him ‘The Wizard of Oz’ because he’s doing all these amazing things behind the curtains with no recognition.”
Anyone who’s been part of a non-profit organization can attest to the fact that it takes many people with various skills to accomplish the group’s mission−just like in the military. However, unlike in the military, nobody “pulls rank.” Retired major generals such as George Friel, one of the founders of the group, work alongside sergeants, like Dicky Keane to achieve its goals.
To order memorial bricks, go to www.glenlakesvets.org. Click on the tab at the bottom left side of the home page marked “Memorial.” The website contains a wealth of information about the organization. You can also find out more by calling or texting 352-345-5337.