New Branch Brings Special Veteran’s Memorial.

BERLIN – Quietly and with little fanfare, the town of Berlin this week got its own veteran’s memorial complete with flags representing the five branches in the armed forces snapping briskly in the afternoon breeze courtesy of the new Bank of Ocean City branch.

For months the plaza in front of the new Bank of Ocean City branch at the entrance to Berlin near the split between Old Ocean City Boulevard and William Street slowly took shape, but it was not until Wednesday afternoon that most residents in the area realized the new park would be veteran’s memorial. The flags representing the branches of the armed services arrived on Wednesday morning and by lunchtime were flying proudly atop their flagpoles at the new memorial, which is similar to the much celebrated memorials recently dedicated in Ocean City and Ocean Pines.

Bank of Ocean City President Wayne Benson said Wednesday the plan all along was to include a veteran’s memorial as part of the plaza in front of the bank’s newest branch.

“This is a major intersection and a main entrance into town, plus it’s right in front of the American Legion post across the street, so we thought it was appropriate to pay homage to our veterans with this,” he said. “It was part of the plan all along to have a nice park-like atmosphere out here, and the idea of making it a veteran’s memorial sort of came out of that idea.”

Unlike the new memorials in Ocean Pines and Ocean City, the new veteran’s memorial in front of the Bank of Ocean City was not dedicated this week amid stirring speeches and color guards, although bank officials do plan a more formal dedication down the road.

“We’re going to do something formal at some point,” said Bank of Ocean City Berlin branch Vice President Harry Hammond, Jr. “Memorial Day is right around the corner and it might be appropriate to do something at that time.”

While the bank did not hold a formal dedication ceremony for the veteran’s memorial this week, it did hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newest branch last night. Local dignitaries and representatives of the local chambers of commerce were on hand to welcome the newest addition to the town.

The new bank branch occupies a prominent position near the eastern entrance to the town of Berlin and, despite the freshly paved parking lot and incomplete landscaping, the new facility looks as if it has been a part of the town for years. Designed by Jeff Schoelkopf of Warren, Vt., the new bank features Victorian architecture and fits easily into the town of Berlin reminiscent of the older homes in the neighborhood.

“The idea was to create a building that’s more home than a business,” said Benson. “It really could be someone’s home if it didn’t have the Bank of Ocean City sign on it. The intent was to make this branch warm and inviting and I hope we have achieved this.”

The bank purchased the property in 2005 with a fall 2006 target date for opening, but weather and site work issues pushed the timetable back to this week. The Berlin branch is the sixth in the area for the local institution, which just celebrated its centennial. The original branch opened on Dorchester Street in Ocean City in 1916.