The Rush County Veterans Memorial Foundation had a dilemma.
“Our current crosses were very old [25+ years] and in need of replacement,” said Rushville City Councilman Craig Smith, who took an interest in the need several months ago. “The cost to replace the aluminum crosses was $14 a piece. We needed at least 100 of these crosses. With limited resources, the cost of new crosses from an outside vendor was cost prohibitive and our need to desperately replace our existing crosses didn’t seem attainable in the near term.” Smith said.
The crosses appear each year on the front lawn of the Rush County Courthouse.
Smith had the idea of taking one of the existing crosses and checking with area businesses to see if the crosses could be fabricated locally at a lower price. Smith spoke with Bruce Davis, owner of Davis Towing and Starweld, and inquired as to whether he and his company could fabricate Rush County’s crosses.
“When I explained our dilemma and our request to Bruce Davis, he quickly jumped on the chance to help. He told me his companies could do the work and he knew just the right person to handle the cutting and welding,” Smith said.
Davis was in the process of teaching his seventh-grade son, Brad Davis, to weld and thought this would be a great project for the youth. Rather than aluminum, Davis also helped by donating steel for Rush County’s crosses, noting it was stronger and would last longer.
Davis said he would donate the steel and all the equipment time to cut the steel if his son could be paid an hourly rate to do the welding and fabrication of the crosses.
“Under the watchful eye of his father and city councilman Brian Connor, young Brad did a super job welding and fabricating the new crosses. What’s more, once Bruce let his son Brad in on what he was doing and why he was doing it, Brad said, ‘Dad, I don’t want any money.’ That’s pretty cool,” Smith said of the effort.
Once built, Rush County’s crosses needed a new coat of paint. Councilman Connor sent Councilman Smith to see another local resident and businessman, Brad Pike. Pike is the owner of Pike’s Sandblasting of Rushville, and his company does sandblasting and powder coating work for just about anything.
Smith met with Pike and again explained what they were trying to do and what cause they were serving.
“I explained to him that our funding was limited and inquired if he could help us in this matter,” recalls Smith.
Like Bruce and Brad Davis, Pike quickly jumped at the chance to help the local veteran’s group. Despite being labor intensive, he offered to sandblast and powder coat the crosses for free. His only request was that the Foundation pay for the materials used to powder coat the crosses. The work of his company will make our steel crosses shine and last for decades.
“With our bright and shiny new white crosses in hand, we needed to add our fallen veterans names to these personal memorials. I contacted Ms. Benda Cain, of Cain Signs. I explained to Benda our cause and asked if she could help. We have 91 crosses that require lettering and I knew that the decals for the lettering may be cost prohibitive. Ms. Cain saw our need and wanted to be part of this neat memorial project. Without hesitation, she offered to provide the lettering of all 91 of our crosses to us at only her cost. Without her support, we could not have afforded to letter our crosses,” Smith said.
“This story started with the simple idea or question that with limited resources, could we manufacture our crosses locally and buy them for less than the quoted price of $14 a cross through a private, out-of-town vendor? The answer to my idea and question was a resounding yes! Through the generous support of our local businesses, we were able to replace our aged, broken down crosses for just over $6 a cross,” Smith continued.
The veteran and Councilman also offered his thanks to everyone involved for making this project a reality.
“I have learned many lessons in coordinating this project from start to finish. Of those, I offer my sincerest thanks to Mr. Bruce Davis, Mr. Brad Davis, Mr. Brad Pike, Ms. Benda Cain and City Councilman Brian Connor for their support of our Rush County veterans. This story illustrates the point that our local business men and women will always rise to the occasion of supporting our local causes. It also illustrates that our community businesses have much to offer our citizens if we simply take the time to look around Rushville and Rush County. I applaud Bruce and Sherri Davis for teaching their young son the importance of giving back to the community. This particular combat veteran especially thanks young Mr. Davis for committing the time to a project that memorializes the ultimate sacrifice made by so many Rush County men and women that came well before him; job well done, young man!” Smith concluded.
A local Memorial Day service is scheduled for Monday.
Beginning at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, US Navy submarine veterans will present a “Tolling of the Boats” service at North Veterans Memorial Park Bridge.
That will be followed by a procession of fire, police and private vehicles carrying veterans to the veterans burial section located in the southwest corner of East Hill Cemetery.
While en route, the procession will make a number of brief stops to honor fallen veterans.
Members of the general public and all area veterans are encouraged to participate in Monday’s program.
– Rushville Republican