Family brings back memorial to honor all Center Junction veterans

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On Saturday, people in Center Junction held a ceremony at the town’s community building in honor of Armed Forces Day.

It was also the first time the building’s veteran memorial wall, which remembers all veterans from the Jones County town, had been unveiled.

Last year, Connie and Chad Rubner bought the building from Jones County.

In the past, the building had displayed photos of about 30 veterans from the town's history, but by then, the photos had disappeared from the walls.

In the year since then, the Rubners have refurbished the community center, painting the walls, putting in a new ceiling and floor, and changing out the lights.

They also brought back the wall of veterans — but now, more than 150 Center Junction veterans are included on it.

“I’ve grown up here all my life, so this is just a lot of history to me,” Connie Rubner said.

It started when she and Chad ran into a veteran in town named Gail Williams.

“I told him, I said, ‘You know what, I will make you a deal. I will make sure your photo gets back on that wall,’” Chad said.

Now, Williams’ photo is right in the middle of it, surrounded by the others, including some from as far back as the War of 1812.

“When I started putting them on, I didn’t think they’d fill the wall up, but as you can see, it’s pretty full now,” Chad said.

But first, they needed Connie’s mother, Carol Barnes, to track them all down. A lifelong resident of Center Junction, she and friend used their own contacts to find as many veterans as they could, even scouring the information and photos on ancestry websites.

“I couldn’t even tell you how many phone calls,” she said. “And then we used Facebook, and it just boomeranged.”

Barnes has also started to put together a book with information on each veteran, to remember their stories and who they were as well.

The wall has special significance for the Rubner and Barnes family.

“It’s neat,” Chad said. “Connie’s dad’s a veteran. Mine’s a veteran, too. So just to have it out there and not lost, you know.”

Now they’ve given the whole town of Center Junction a place to hold on to those memories too.

“It’s surreal,” Connie said. “It’s pretty special.”