By Teri Nehrenz
There are five of them representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard standing tall and proud, honoring those men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces and are, or will be, buried in the new Mesquite Cemetery.
The six foot tall, newly erected memorials were the brain child of Mayor Allan Litman, the drafting/engineering/planning project of city Engineer Travis Anderson, laborious work of the public works department and finishing/beautifying work of Mesquite Tile and Flooring; all on a volunteer basis.
The bronze plaques that were installed on the statues were obtained through Charles Sellner, who obviously had to order and pay for them but Litman says he gave him a hell of a deal.
Litman explained that when the city budgeted for the new cemetery, they didn’t have anything in the budget for the veterans except for a pentagon shaped slab of concrete. For a Vietnam veteran, as decorated as he is, the mayor knows firsthand about the unfathomable horrors our military men and women have endured during times of war and the sacrifice to the United States that any member of the military makes when enlisting. This was unacceptable to him.
He had no initial idea where the money was going to come from but the most obvious place was the Veteran’s Center and there he went.
He got his beginning funds, it wasn’t much, but he put a plan in action; the rest was a surprise. While the Veteran’s Center didn’t want to be involved in the building or planning of the monuments, they were happy to turn over some funds and let Litman have at it; why not, he’s the perfect person to organize anything for the vets in Mesquite and he already organizes most of the large veteran events.
Litman explained the Department of Public Works guys, on their own time and in the blazing heat, worked several hours installing the foundations, rebar and erecting the tall pillars.
Litman was grateful to the guys but not terribly surprised; “They do that sort of stuff all the time,” Litman said. “They just don’t tell people about it. The city had some leftover materials from other projects so I paid them for that out of the funds; but the guys did all the hard work on their own. We’ve really got a great group of guys.”
It was what came next that shocked and touched the mayor’s heart.
He went to Mesquite Tile to select a porcelain tile that would finish the concrete pillars. He selected the porcelain because it would last forever or for a very long time but it was expensive.
The mayor was looking at about a $5,000 estimate when Kevin Parish, owner of Mesquite Tile, said, “No charge.”
Litman couldn’t believe he just said they’d donate both the tile and the labor for the installation. “They did a beautiful job; It couldn’t have been done any better and I am truly touched at their generosity,” Litman said.
The mayor says there will be a ceremony for the new memorials but when it’s cooler and people can appreciate being outside. You can stop by the cemetery any time before then yourself and take a look.
The new cemetery is located on World Champion Way just before you get to the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex.