YORK COUNTY, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – The search is over for York County Veterans Affairs. A large donation coming in could be the game changer that was needed. York County is continuing its effort to find more ways to honor those who’ve served in the armed forces and now, thanks to one generous couple, a new opportunity for a veterans cemetery is more possible.
York County is competing against 45 other South Carolina counties to bring a state funded veterans cemetery to the area. The process began in June and leaders had 45 days to meet needed requirements, including a sizable amount of donated land. After being given an extension to continue the search leaders say something amazing happened.
Director of York County Veterans Affairs, Melinda Woodhurst, says, “Well we were literally ten minutes away from having to concede defeat and then based on a Facebook post from July the 23rd, a family saw this post on Facebook, called us and said, ‘We’d like to talk to you about donating some land’.”
One Sunday morning , this couple saw that social media post over breakfast and answered the call.
Donor Gia Purcell says, “It sounds a little crazy that you make that decision over coffee on a Sunday morning, but really the way we have been, when we bought this land, we were potentially gonna sell it or keep it for an investment — but like most things that are a big decision in our life, we pray about it and just ask that God lead us down the right road. Show us which way to go.”
Gia and her husband Tom just recently acquired 115 acres — they donated 60 of those acres for this project. Tom Purcell served in the army during the Vietnam era. He says he felt a responsibility to help.
Land donor Tom Purcell says, “When I was a teenager, I sorta stayed in and out of trouble and a judge told me, he said ‘boy, you need to join the army because you’re either gonna wind up in jail or dead’ and I said ‘yes sir’. So I wound up joining the army and it’s the best thing I ever did. They did much more for me, than I could ever do for them and I just felt like I needed to give something back.”
With more than 28,000 veterans in York County and the closest state funded veterans cemeteries in Asheville and Salisbury, North Carolina and Anderson, South Carolina — leaders say with so many local attractions veterans and families deserve a place closer to home.
“Having a way to honor our veterans in close proximity, will give us an opportunity to have those folks benefit from visiting both sites,” says Woodhurst.
In the video above, CN2’s Rachel Richardson is speaking with leaders who are applying for a local veterans cemetery and the couple who’s helping in the effort to make it happen.