MISSOULA — Montanans are proud of those who have served -- whether it is in the military, as a first responder, or as a front-line worker.
When one Vietnam veteran from Missoula noticed that some of the monuments at Rose Memorial Park no longer had the luster they once did, he decided to do something about it.
On its own, Rose Memorial Park is a pleasant place to walk and enjoy the flowers and trees. Add, the memorials for veterans, first responders, and others, and it becomes something of an emotional centerpiece for Missoula.
That’s why Jim Salisbury decided to put up. He and his young daughter were there for the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in 1988 and when the two visited last Veteran’s Day, he didn’t like what he saw.
"I took note of the lettering, specifically on the monuments and I said, ‘you know, I want to do something about that, it should be cleaned up’,” Salisbury said. “And obviously, I've been here many times before that. I went home and contacted David."
David is David Selvage with the Missoula Parks System. The two came up with a plan, and Salisbury donated the money to get the much-needed cleanup started.
"This hasn't been done in over ten years, a regular cleaning. And it's time. It's definitely time. The plaques are becoming hard to read. They represent a lot of people, a lot of Montanans,” Selvage said.
Garden City Monument will be doing the work, which includes some minor restoration, while giving the pieces some real shine, again.
"So, you can actually read the names. You go over to the World War II Memorial, and you can read the names,” Salisbury said. “The Korean War is in bad shape too. And this one. Yeah, I'm excited to see what it looks like in a few weeks."
"This is important to all of our community and when people wish to donate, their values are on the table. Right? And they want to donate to something that is meaningful to them,” Selvage said. “And that helps us all.”
For Salisbury, his contribution was more than just an act of Civic Pride, it is personal and really, an act of love. He is a Vietnam veteran who has names of friends on the Memorial.
"One of those friends being a Helena kid that was a couple years older than me. And his name is inscribed over there -- Thomas Neal Grose, Army Sergeant, who was killed a few weeks before I arrived in the country,” Salisbury said.
“And so, we always think of him. And as a quirk of fate would have it my mom and dad are buried next to him in Helena in the cemetery, and it's kind of cool,” he continued. “We maintain his grave because he doesn't have family left, so..."
Salisbury donated through a non-profit with Missoula Parks and Recreation which is designed to fund specific projects. The work is expected to be done by the weekend of May 22nd, one week before the Memorial Day holiday.