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Fouke Group Creates Memorials for the Boys

Veterans mural in Fouke, Ark.
This mural painted by Joe Davis pays tribute to veterans from Fouke, Ark. (Photo by Jathan Fink/Townsquare Media)

Citizens for a Better Community (CBC) is working to make Fouke a better place to live. But they also want to reinforce the community’s patriotic pride as they remember the boys lost in war.

Kenneth Jenkins fought in the army during Operation Desert Storm. Killed during the Gulf War, he is one of many Fouke boys who never made it back home. “That’s why we’re renaming the 71 corridor through Fouke the Kenneth Jenkins Expressway,” says Mayor Terry Purvis.

“Fouke is very patriotic,” he says as he and Ann Fowler show me a mural that was painted by local artists Joe Davis and his son Joey, who have painted two murals in the community.

“That’s why everyone loves this painting,” Purvis says, showing me the wall of the old Fouke bank building that is emblazoned with a bald eagle, the stars and stripes and the words ‘A Tribute to Veterans.’

But a newly renamed expressway and mural aren’t the only two ways Fouke is remembering its veterans and the patriots who supported them. The community, with the help of the CBC has built the Veterans Memorial Park.

Veterans Memorial Park monument in Fouke, Ark.
Veterans Memorial Park monument in Fouke, Ark. pays tribute to the men and women who served in the armed forces. (Photo by Jathan Fink/Townsquare Media)

“We really got everyone involved,” says Fowler. “Teachers, students, and people in the community all came together to make this happen.”

CBC Chairwoman Nelene Harris, a local science teacher, had visited the Belcher Veterans Memorial in Belcher, La. and returned to Fouke with the dream of creating a similar structure in Fouke. “This memorial became not just my dream,” Harris is quoted as saying at the memorial, “but the dream of a whole community.”

“Nelene was really the driving force behind this project,” Fowler says. “She saw the park as an educational tool, so she wanted to be sure it was located near the schools.”

The park opened in June 2010, directly across the street from the Fouke Schools administration building. Harris was presented with a plaque dedicating the park in her honor that same year.

Students played a big part in building the monument too, Fowler explains. Students designed the metalwork that supports the large panels giving Fouke’s history with various wars. Welding students created the ornate birds and plants that decorate each one.

A panel at the Veterans Memorial Park in Fouke, Ark.
A panel at the Veterans Memorial Park in Fouke, Ark. showcases student design. (Photo by Jathan Fink/Townsquare Media)

A 10,000-pound stone monument stands at the heart of the park and is inscribed with the words, ‘A tribute to all veterans who served honorably in the military service of our country – Thanks and well done.’

Surrounding this massive testament of patriotic pride are brick paths, laid out in a starburst pattern. Families purchased bricks from the CBC for $40 each and engraved them with names of their fallen loved ones, including name and official rank.

Bricks have names dating back to the Civil War, like one for Charles A Hutt, 33-AR Infantry who served in the military between 1862 and 1865. However, not every engraved brick contains the names of soldiers from Fouke.

Some people from California purchased bricks for the monument, says Mayor Purvis. So the soldiers listed are really from all over.

The CBC hopes the park will continue to grow, serving as a place of remembrance and a symbol of pride for the community for years to come.

If you’d like to purchase an engraving brick at the memorial, you may contact Nelene Harris at (870) 653-4889 or Ann Fowler at (870) 653-4427 for more information.

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