The Johnson City-Washington County Veterans Memorial is no longer merely a colorful concept.
It is, for now, dirt, concrete and steel. But it is taking shape, and workers were hard at it Monday setting the framework for what will be a shrine nearly five years in the making.
The memorial has faced many hurdles, including financial roadblocks, which have delayed the start of construction. Those impediments have been largely overcome, and veterans from all branches of service who are from, or have a connection to, Washington County and Johnson City will soon be honored in a not only colorful, but respectful setting.
“We poured the concrete Thursday,” Joe Archer, a superintendent with Johnson City’s Burleson Construction, said about the curved bases on which granite structures will be erected bearing veterans’ names. “We’ve set the steel frames which will support the concrete and granite. Right now we’re setting the aluminum concrete forms.”
Archer said the outer two rings will have names inscribed on black granite. The inner ring will be red granite and is reserved for the names of those who are missing in action or killed in action. The outer rings will have granite structures about 4 feet high. The inner ring’s structures will be up to 8 feet high.
The memorial will include a gathering plaza for special events.
On July 21, the City Commission voted to cut $68,000 in special appropriations this fiscal year. But among the new line items was a $50,000 appropriation to help with the memorial’s construction, which commissioners unanimously approved.
Construction began Aug. 17. The initial work included removal of some light poles from Kiwanis Park followed by grading and leveling to prepare the base of what will be three semi-circles that face the corner of West Market Street and Veterans Way near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and National Cemetery at Mountain Home.
The Johnson City-Washington County, Tennessee Veterans’ Memorial Committee was formed for the sole purpose of establishing a memorial park in Johnson City.
Records show that more than 13,000 men and women from Washington County have served their country as members of the various branches of the military since the turn of the 20th Century. While other counties and cities within our region have constructed memorials to their veterans, no such memorial currently exists in Johnson City.
All honorably discharged veterans from Washington County are eligible to have their names inscribed on the Memorial.
However, persons may purchase memorial inscriptions in honor of relatives or friends who may or may not reside in the area, contingent upon copies of authentic documentation to support each nominee’s eligibility. Proof of an honorable discharge from military service is required.
To learn more about how to submit a name for the memorial and necessary documentation, visit www.jc-wcveteransmemorial.org.