Never forget


By Laurie Paolicelli

Committee members and veterans Ed Gill, Bruce Runberg, Jim Merritt.

They represent the United States of America. They come from all walks of life. They are men and women; they are of all ethnicities. They serve in the prime of their lives, forever remembering long ago battles, friendships, and harrowing experiences. Some are physically, mentally, or spiritually wounded. Some never come home.

All wear the scars of having seen and experienced traumas most of us can’t in our worst nightmares imagine. They are our brothers and our sisters, our neighbors, and friends. Some were taken prisoner of war, and some are still missing in action.

We are free because they answered the call, not just to a deep-seated need to protect their loved ones, but also for those people they’ll never know.

All gave some, and some gave all.

Representative Renee Price.

In honor of Memorial Day, 2024, the Orange County Veterans Memorial will host an event at the memorial site in Chapel Hill.

And here is our special request.

The Orange County Veterans Committee hopes that you will consider purchasing a brick paver ($250.00) to help sustain this important memorial site in Chapel Hill.

Brick Pavers.

“Our committee has worked for many years to erect a remembrance to all who have served and continue to serve in these tumultuous times,” says Bruce Runberg, Co-Chair of the Orange County Veterans Memorial committee. “We have been very fortunate that Orange County and their team continue to support our efforts. And yet, these brick pavers are important — not simply for our financial sustainability — but that visitors and residents of our communities can see their own names and remember all who serve and continue to serve today.”

Peggy Wilmoth, Jim Merritt and Bruce Runberg.

“Call me,” says Lee Heavlin, who has been nurturing this paver program since the beginning. “I am happy to walk you through the process. It’s very easy.”

Heavlin can be reached at: 919-260-6571 or via email at

Heavlin says that brick pavers are available in three sizes:

    • 4×8 – $250
    • 8×8 – $500
    • 12×12 – $1000

Lee Heavlin.

We are so thankful for the sacrifices and services that veterans have performed for our country. These brave men and women have put their lives, their careers, and their stability on the line so that all of us can be safe on the home front. We believe that they deserve the best care they can get for performing this brave duty.

A few facts from the PEW Research Center: A nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.

      • The experiences of post-9/11 veterans differ from those who served in previous eras. About one-in-five veterans today served on active duty after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
      • These post-9/11 veterans are more likely to have been deployed and to have served in combat, giving them a distinct set of experiences compared with those who served in previous eras.
      • Roughly two-thirds of all veterans (68%) say that in the first few years after leaving the military, they frequently felt proud of their military service. 
      • For many, the aftermath of war lingers long beyond their tour of duty, facing challenges that can be financial, emotional and professional. 

Memorial Day 2024, formally known as Decoration Day, is a federal holiday observed yearly on the last Monday in May. May 27, 2024 the Orange County Veterans Memorial group and the community at large will commemorate all of the men and women who have died while serving in the military for the United States of America.

Regina Merritt.

In quiet moments of reflection, as we ponder the immeasurable sacrifices made by veterans, a profound sadness often accompanies our gratitude. These individuals, who stepped into the breach between peace and conflict, carry the weight of their experiences forever, so that those back home may continue to cherish the freedoms we often take for granted.

“Honoring veterans is not just about acknowledging their service,” says Heavlin. It’s a solemn recognition of their courage, resilience, and the personal sacrifices they made.”

“It is our sincere hope that these personalized Bricks of Honor will provide a visual demonstration of thanks to the brave men and women who have guarded our freedom for generations. A Brick of Honor is a lasting tribute that honors the service of an individual veteran.”

Architect David Swanson reviewing early plans for the site of the Orange County Veterans Memorial,

Memorial Day


Monday, May 27, 2024
9:00 am – 9:45 am
Orange County Veterans Memorial Site, off Homestead Road

In case of rain: Southern Human Services Center or Seymour Center
Parking and refreshments will be provided. 

For information on the brick pavers, call or email Lee Heavlin.

For information the May 27, 2024 Memorial Day event in Chapel Hill, visit:

Regina Merritt and Lewis Atwater.

Laurie Paolicelli is executive director for the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, a position she has held since 2005. Laurie has worked in tourism and marketing for twenty-five years, having served in leadership roles in Houston and California convention and visitor bureaus. She is a native of the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Communications from the University Wisconsin-Superior and graduate certification in Technology In Marketing from the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
This reporter can be reached at

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