Gainesville man leading effort for community veteran memorial

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Sue Hundt believed her cousin, private first class Joe L. Biffle, should have a public display to honor his memory and service.

So she brought his flag to her friend and co-worker, Ed Zielinski, who captured more than just his memory.

"Until Ed did this, he was gone and forgotten," Hundt said. "Literally."

Hundt said the memorial keeps her cousin's memory alive.

Along with the flag, Zielsinski found a picture and added information about Biffle. He said he wanted to make the display personal.

"[I want to] explain that memory for the public to share," he said. "Who isn't just a name on a wall or a statistic in a book."

Hundt said she was 'thrilled' at the display Zielinski put together for Biffle.

"While his name is on the monument out at Leonard Park, it in no way describes anything about Les," she said. "And it's just so wrong to have forgotten about any of our vets."

But this small memorial grew into the idea for a larger community project.

Zielinski and Hundt have found other members of the community wanting to share the story of their family's veterans. They're currently looking for a place here in downtown Gainesville to host a permanent memorial.

"We've thought about the idea of some sort of memorial, where people can come in and see the stories of these folks, see the farms that they grew up on and the factories that they worked in and get an idea of what they were like as individuals," Zielinski said.

Hundt said she hopes a public display of family memories will remind everyone what soldiers and their families go through.

"Bringing Les and his story to life will inspire others to show respect to any vet, to any soldier for any reason," she said. "Especially their service."

Zielinski said the project is still in the early stages, but they've received support from the community.

He said the most important thing is for veterans' stories to show future generations what it means to be a true hero.

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