THE CHRONOLOGY OF A MEMORIAL
The story of this planned memorial is provided in detail on this page but long before the memorial was completed, applications were made to obtain grave markers from the Veteran's Administration. This is normally a simple process that involves filling out the VA Form 30-1440, supplying information about the decedent's military service. Within six weeks, the application is normally approved and the markers cut, engraved, shipped and received. That was not the case in this instance. THE BUREAUCRACY BEGINS* The VA Form 30-1440 application was sent to the VA on 6 June 2011. This is the standard request form that has resulted in thousands of VA-sponsored grave markers being supplied to either mark the last resting place of a veteran or to memorialize his death in a cemetery that he would have been buried in had they lived and died a normal life. THE BUREAUCRACY CONTINUES
A letter dated 30 June 2011 from the VA was received denying the application. The VA makes the claim that because a soldier died and was buried on the battlefield (or a mass grave) that there is insufficient proof that the veteran actually served, existed or died-- a case of corpus delecti.
THE APPEALS PROCESS BEGINS
On 7 July 2011, Charles Simmons writes the VA bureaucrat who denied the application. He attaches a revised form 30-1440 together with the official NC Dept. of History and Archives record that the decedent indeed served and died in battle.
THE APPEALS PROCESS CONTINUES
On 29 July 2011, an additional appeal is made by Cecil Hollifield, supplying supporting testimony from Mr. Glenwood Fields, a researcher who tried to explain that those who died in battle were not necessarily consigned to a marked grave and that mass graves were often the final resting place of those who were killed.
FURTHER HELP IS SOUGHT
On 11 August 2011, a request for assistance to overcome federal bureaucracy was sought from our congressional representatives. Due to the intransigence of the VA bureaucrat, NC Senator Richard Burr and NC Representative Patrick McHenry were asked to intervene on our behalf. On the basis of common sense, this additional assistance should never have been necessary.
A SUCCESSFUL CELEBRATION IS HELD
Without hearing further from the VA, grave markers were ordered from Columbus Marble Works of Columbus, GA. These were paid for by private funds, without any assistance from the VA. The memorial celebration was held on 27 May 2012 and was attended by over 100 individuals, including those from at least 6 states outside of N.C.. Many attendees say this was the best ceremony they ever attended.
NOT EVERYTHING COMES UP ROSES
The process of obtaining the markers didn't go without a hitch. One of them was received in two pieces. Columbus Marble was able to duplicate the stone and have it delivered in time for the dedication.
TIME DRAGS ON Moving the clock forward, the VA finally responds. Bear in mind that the memorial ceremony was held on 27 May 2012, nearly a year after the first request was made for the markers. With typical government bureaucracy, the VA finally responds to the request for markers which was made 2½ years prior. Having spent nearly $700 on markers (paid from private funds), the VA finally admits that they were wrong in denying the markers originally requested and are willing to grant the original request. If you are able to wade through the legalese here, this is just one more example of what kind of government we have.
* Document exemplars shown apply to both Elijah and Noah Simmons. Identical applications and appeals were made on behalf of both of these Simmons brothers. Today, their memories have been permanently honored
Derick S. Hartshorn - © 2012