The 122nd memorial flag raising at the Tarboro-Edgecombe Veterans Memorial, scheduled for 11 a .m. Monday, will honor the late Joel K. Bourne, the individual perhaps most instrumental in the memorial’s very existence.
Bourne, who died Feb. 24, along with Col. J.W. Wood, led a campaign to raise $80,000 to construct the veterans memorial on the west end of the Town Common. The granite memorial, which incorporates six flagpoles for the flags of the branches of the military with a larger flagpole in the center for the United States flag, was dedicated Nov. 11, 2002.
From the time of the dedication and until he died, Bourne, as a member of the Golden K, had been a regular attendee at the monthly flag raisings to honor the memory of Edgecombe County veterans.
Bourne, who served in the Marine Corps in World War II, was known to be an individual who shunned the public spotlight and only wanted to help ensure the job got done — whatever it might be.
In a letter to the editor at the time of his death, former Tarboro resident W. M. “Bill” Bass of Dallas wrote: “Two of the bloodiest battles of World War II were ones that Joel fought in. When asked to tell of those times, he would say that he only unloaded cargo on the beaches. Edith (his late wife) would be quick to reply, ‘That’s not what your Marine buddies say when we go to those reunions!’”
Bass described Bourne as “a true patriot, hero, and Christian.”
In addition to the memorial, Bourne was extensively involved in the Edgecombe County Memorial Veterans Museum and in the saving and ongoing restoration of the Colonial Theatre, which he purchased and gave to the museum.
For his lifelong service to the community, Mr. Bourne was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame in 2008.