FERNDALE - The walls were cracked. Bricks were missing. And the front of the Veteran Memorial at Greenacres Memorial Park had fallen.
Jerry Landcastle noticed its sad state about three years ago during the Memorial Day event to honor the men and women who had died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
He saw what had been erected, and what was falling down.
"It couldn't stand like that," the former Ferndale mayor said.
"It was a very bedraggled monument," agreed Ray Radke, a Ferndale resident.
"We had to do something about it, it was in such bad shape," Landcastle said. "We had to do something to honor our veterans."
So a group of veterans that include Landcastle and Radke are raising money and helping to rebuild the tired memorial at the cemetery near Ferndale.
Its history goes back to the 1970s, according to Landcastle.
It was built in 1976 on land donated by Bob Moles and, for years, maintained by members of the Allied Veterans Council.
But those members had died by the 1990s, and the memorial - which was owned by the council - fell into disrepair.
So Landcastle and others re-formed the council - this time calling it the Whatcom County Allied Veterans Council and pulling from veterans groups in Whatcom County for members. Landcastle is the president.
Their goal: To care for veterans memorials in Whatcom County that don't have an organization already overseeing their upkeep.
"We want to make sure all the veterans memorials are cared for properly," said Eugene Goldsmith, a former state representative who also is a Ferndale resident.
So far, the memorial at Greenacres is the only one the council knows of in Whatcom County that doesn't have a group serving as caretaker.
Members are raising $35,000 to $75,000 to restore the existing memorial. The final amount will depend on how much labor and material are donated, council members said.
"We do need the help," Landcastle said.
To help raise money, the council is selling bricks at $125 a piece that will be placed within the rectangular memorial, which members already have started to rebuild with the money that has been raised so far.
"I never, never dreamed this would reach this point," Radke said, praising Landcastle's efforts.
Each brick can be etched with a name or statement. Anyone can buy a brick. The offer isn't limited to veterans.
The council hopes to have the project done in time for Memorial Day 2013.
And when it has been completed, they'll put back the bronze plaques engraved with the names of 18 Whatcom County veterans.
For now, those plaques sit elsewhere at the cemetery - awaiting the memorial's completion.
They're engraved with the names of men like Cpl. L.R. (Mike) Walters, who died in 1951 in North Korea; Lt. Robert J. Jones, who died in the European theater in 1945; and Harry S. Lee, a seaman who served in the Iwo Jima campaign and died in 1945.
HOW TO HELP
People who want to buy etched bricks in memory of a veteran, loved one or for other reasons to help raise money to rebuild the Veteran Memorial at Greenacres Memorial Park can do so by contacting Jerry Landcastle at 360-306-5316; Ken Richardson at 360-733-9730; and Del Wolf at 360-734-4309.
The cost per brick is $125.
Tax-deductible donations to the Whatcom Allied Veterans Council can be mailed to P.O. Box 30, Ferndale, WA 98248-0030.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 360-715-2234.