Spelling mistake brings attention to new war memorial

The original bench at the memorial misspelled the word "terrorism" (Provided Photo/WANE)

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) — A new war memorial in Columbia City is getting attention after a picture of a spelling mistake went viral.

Several people stopped by the corner of Van Buren and Chauncy streets outside the Whitley County courthouse Friday to see with their own eyes what they saw online. A bench with the words “War on Terriorism” engraved, meant to be “War on Terrorism.”

The designer of the new Vietnam War memorial, Ty Murphy, scratched his head as he talked to 24-Hour News 8’s sister station, NewsChannel 15, after putting tape over the typo. He said he wondered why people were so focused on the mistake with so many bad things going on in the world.

The bench with the typo is part of a bigger memorial
outside Whitley County’s courthouse.

“This is the important part: the guys that gave their lives,” Murphy said. “A mistake on a bench is a pretty small thing to worry about where there are so many other things you should concentrate on.”

The mistake was made on a stone bench put in place Tuesday to honor veterans of modern wars. The picture started making its way around Columbia City by Thursday.

“The phones have rang off the hook,” Murphy added. “We got 100 likes on Facebook for the memorial and about 100 people asking us if we’re going to correct the spelling, if we knew it was wrong.”

Murphy said several sets of eyes missed the mistake, from the Muncie company who made it, to the people who placed it, including himself.

The bench was not the focal point of the project, though. A finely polished stone, honoring 15 Whitley County veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam, sits as the centerpiece of the project. The memorial is made of the same kind of stone as Washington’s Vietnam War memorial.

The centerpiece of the memorial features
the names of 15 Whitley County veterans
who lost their lives in Vietnam.

“They weren’t really treated properly when they got home, but after decades and years gone by, the public is now realizing what the Vietnam veteran had to endure,” Richard Stark from Columbia City’s VFW 5582 said as he sat and admired the monument.

If Murphy gets the credit for the idea, Stark gets the credit for promoting the fundraising efforts. They both acknowledge the project wouldn’t have happened without support and donations from several veteran groups, local businesses and individuals.

“Everybody came together because this was a good cause,” Stark said.

“The generosity of the community has just been overwhelming,” Murphy added.

The memorial will be officially dedicated on November 11, Veterans Day.

As far as the bench, the company who made it assured Murphy the mistake will be fixed or the bench will be replaced, making a potentially tough situation a little lighter.

“It’s kind of funny in a way. It’s worked out to be an attention getter,” Murphy said while chuckling.

NewsChannel 15 contacted Mayor Ryan Daniel’s office in Columbia City for a reaction to the attention the city was getting from the bench. He did not want to talk on camera because it was not a city project. But in a response from his office, he acknowledged the volunteers behind the project wanted to do something good for the community.