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Michael Hunter Monument in place at Hunter Park

December 1 – A large granite monument honoring McAlester Vietnam veteran Michael J. Hunter is now in place within the metropolis park named after him.

Staff at The Monument Place put in the granite marker after it was transported to McAlester from Georgia, the place it now resides at Michael J. Hunter Park, 1401 E. Chickasaw Ave. at McAlester.

For the reason that granite stone and its base mixed weigh almost 2,300 kilos, Monument Place staff Seth Hilburn and Wyatt Willis, with the assistance of Roxstean Willis, used a truck-mounted hoist to put in the monument, with McAlester Neighborhood Companies Supervisor Doug Bssinger additionally available

A 1964 graduate of McAlester’s L’Ouverture Excessive College, Hunter is cited as the primary African-American soldier from McAlester and Pittsburg County to offer his life in service to his nation throughout the Vietnam Struggle. He was killed in motion whereas on an ambush patrol in South Vietnam on March 15, 1967, aged 20.

Hunter’s navy decorations and medals embody the Purple Coronary heart and the Bronze Star.

A dedication date for the granite monument has but to be set, however those that labored on the venture and different members of the neighborhood are joyful to see it put in.

Dr. Barbara Smitherman, president of the Pittsburg County Chapter of the NAACP, wrote the phrases about Hunter’s life and navy service inscribed on the face of the monument, which features a quote from John 15:13: , {that a} man lays down his life for his associates.”

A part of the inscription states that Hunter was “described by his classmates as a really caring, delicate, compassionate and respectful younger man, somebody who would do something for others, somebody who was very studious and clever.”

City of McAlester grants author and administrator Stephanie Giacomo stated the city serves as a conduit by means of which non-public donations are made for the monument.

“We simply acted like a grasp key,” Giacomo stated. “He was paid with donated funds.” She stated the price of the granite marker venture to date has been $9,439. The remaining funds will likely be used for additional enhancements on the monument web site, she stated.

Requested how the venture happened, Giacomo stated: “In 2020 there was a sequence of conferences with residents specializing in Hunter Park and a monument to Michael J Hunter.” The city of McAlester had already offered a sequence of upgrades, together with a mural of Hunter on a close-by wall, painted by native artist Ernest Russell, however the residents assembly wished to do extra, he stated. she acknowledged.

This resulted within the need to put in the granite monument on the positioning.

“It is really great to see Michael J. Hunter correctly memorialized on the park,” Giacomo stated. “It is nice how shortly the neighborhood responded to put in it.”

Giacomo stated she was privileged to be concerned as a neighborhood member passionate concerning the park in addition to a metropolis worker. ยป

Smitherman stated a committee, which included Shelli Cobert, Marchello Bell and others devoted to the venture, assisted with fundraising efforts for the monument.

Work on the venture was already underway when she started serving as president of the NAACP’s Pittsburg County chapter, Smitherman stated. She spoke with a number of individuals who had gone to high school with Hunter in addition to members of his household earlier than writing the inscription on the face of the monument.

Smitherman stated she has seen the granite monument because it was positioned in Hunter Park.

“I believe it is improbable,” Smitherman stated. “It was such a great factor to do.”

“I am so glad to see they’re fixing this park,” Smitherman stated. “It is a historic place and he was a beautiful and beneficiant individual.”

Richard Hilburn, proprietor of The Monument Place together with his spouse, Jami Hilburn, stated it took round 9 months from preliminary conversations concerning the monument to its supply and set up in McAlester.

He stated the granite stone weighs 1,880 kilos, is three ft vast and 5 ft excessive. It sits on a four-foot-wide, six-inch-tall base and weighs 440 kilos. Collectively they weigh slightly below 2,300 kilos.

Hilburn stated he was advised by the producer that the stone, often called Jet Black Granite, was quarried in america and hand reduce and polished in america. Artist Bobby Matthews, of Elberton County, Georgia, created the art work on the monument, Hilburn stated.

Preliminary drawings and designs have been made at McAlester, earlier than the designs have been despatched to Georgia. “We did the preliminary format with the town,” Hilburn stated.

Hilburn did not know Hunter when the venture began, however has since discovered extra.

“We researched and discovered about his life,” Hilburn stated. He concluded that Michael J. Hunter was an distinctive younger man.

“I am glad to see he is being recognised.”

Contact James Beaty at [email protected]

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