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Veterans Day is a little more than a month away, and when that date arrives one new memorial to the men and women from the area who have served their country in the military will be unveiled while another is nearing completion .
Construction of the Johnson City-Washington County Veterans Memorial — a shrine nearly five years in the making — is progressing rapidly now that sunshine has been the norm more days than not.
Work 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. Since that time, the huge concrete shapes that later will be covered with red and black granite, have all been placed in a large semi circle facing out to an entrance hat will read “Freedom is not Free.”
“Our goal still is to have the unveiling on Veterans Day (Nov. 11),” said Joe Archer, Burleson Construction superintendent. “They’ll start setting granite in one week, and I plan to be finished by the end of October.”
Currently, workers are finishing placing red “pavers,” a general name for brick, on the inside portion of the memorial. This is the area where the tallest monuments face inward and where an American flag will be prominently placed.
Two additional rings of monuments follow the contour of the tallest features in a semi-circular pattern. Gray pavers are being set on walking paths between these areas. Workers also are beginning to set brick that will run from the inner circle, through the entry way and extend out to the edge of the street.
Large concrete blocks also have been placed around the memorial’s outer edge.
“They will have black granite plaques placed on them to honor each of the five branches — Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard,” Archer said.
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 monuments on the outer rings are about 4 feet high. The inner ring’s monuments are up to 8 feet high.
The memorial will include a gathering plaza for special events.
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.
To learn more about how to submit a name for the memorial and necessary documentation, visit www.jc-wcveteransmemorial.orgâ€‰ .
Meanwhile, the final phase of construction is nearing completion on the Elizabethton-Carter County Veterans Walk of Honor, which spans from East Elk Avenue to East E Street in downtown Elizabethton.
Workers from the Tennessee Department of Correction’s Carter County Annex Community Service Group on Thursday began placing the final bricks in the Veterans Walk of Honor. The name of Carter County veterans and their branch of service are inscribed in silver letters on each brick made of black granite stone.
A total of 6,000 bricks will be used in the construction of the Veterans Walk of Honor, said Deacon Bowers, Elizabethton-Carter County Veterans War Memorial Committee chairman.
“Hopefully we will complete this third phase of the Walk of Honor in time to do an unveiling on Veterans Day,” Bowers said. “The idea for this originated in 1999. We have a Korean vets memorial, a World War II memorial and a Vietnam memorial. I thought, why not honor all veterans. I hope and pray the one (memorial) in Johnson City turns out well.”
The names of 258 Carter Countians killed in combat, including POW/MIAs later declared killed in action by act of Congress in 1999, are inscribed in gold letters on black granite monuments in the Elizabethton-Carter County Veterans War Memorial, he said.
“One year and one day after a member of the military is declared missing in action, they are considered killed in action,” he added.
Ceremonies will be held on Veterans Day at the Elizabethton-Carter County Veterans War Memorial, located on Armed Forces Drive in downtown Elizabethton.