“There are about 6,000 plus veterans in Orange County and so we have had a lot of support from various groups and we’ll continue to solicit support until we’re able to finish the hardscape of the memorial,” Runberg said.
He said the committee hopes to create a peaceful and reflective site to thank and memorialize veterans, in addition to providing a space for education and reflection.
Board of Aldermen member Barbara Foushee said in an email she voted for the memorial because she believes in honoring those, both living and deceased, who served the United States through military service.
“My hopes for the memorial are that it will thrive and serve our communities by educating us on how their military service both past present allows us to enjoy the freedoms that we do today,” she said.
Board of Alderman member Sammy Slade voted against the memorial.
“I have a real problem with symbols that do not have the power to convey to those who visit them the weight of what has transpired in a way that would make whoever visited such a symbol feel that such a war should never happen again, and unfortunately, I do not feel that what is being proposed in this monument reflects that,” he said.
Slade said he sees a parallel between the Orange County Veterans Memorial and Silent Sam.
“I hope that, if we do approve of this money to support this monument, 100 years from now people will recognize the problems of the symbols we erected today for things, for wars, for waste, for reasons given that have been lies, and I don’t feel it really honors those who died to not be explicit about what they died for,” he said.
Runberg said Slade has the right to his opinion and that committee members were not at the meeting to dispute it.
“We simply feel that it’s important to recognize the veterans that have served in our armed forces in the United States military services,” he said.
Board of Alderman member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said the decision to vote for the memorial shouldn’t feel complicated.
“This is about the people who serve, not the policymakers who put them in harm’s way,” she said.
Carrboro Mayor Pro Tem Damon Seils and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle emphasized the importance of representing all veterans in the memorial, including LGBTQ+ veterans.
Runberg said he believes the committee is meeting the board’s desires. He said the committee plans to recognize the town and other benefactors in the memorial, as requested by board members.
“We are very appreciative of the donation from the Town of Carrboro and then we’re also hopeful that other municipalities in the county will provide additional funding and we really feel that we are making steady headway, but it’ll take us several years yet to finish up,” he said.