Issues with concrete work and the shipment of engraved tablets set back the Stark County Veterans Memorial in Memorial Park two years.
Now, after many obstacles, a complete assemblage of the monument is scheduled to begin in the coming days.
“We are all going to be there with smiles on our faces and we will all be saying, ‘We didn’t believe it was possible but we did it,'” said Art Wanner, vice president of the Stark County Veterans Association.
Concrete for the site has been laid, a sidewalk poured and bricks placed for the monument. Now all that is left is the final assembly of panels and placement of a saluting soldier statue.
The assemblage will likely begin on Sunday or Monday, depending on the arrival of 5-foot wide and 8-foot tall tablets, which are being transported from Vermont.
Once those arrive, crews will begin the task of constructing the monument set to be 100-feet in diameter with 11 granite panels, ten of which will be placed in a “V” formation.
The ten panels will contain names of veterans from Stark County, which will be listed chronologically from Civil War to the present day.
Dave Logosz, president of the Stark County Veterans Association, said a total of 6,000 names have been engraved in the panels, which have been collected through records and advertisements. Logosz said there is space for additional names that may have been overlooked during the collection period and room for others to be added in the future.
The middle panel will be engraved with the Statue of Liberty and the emblems of the different branches of service.
Logosz said in front of those, there will be a 6-foot, 5-inch bronze statue of a soldier saluting the panels, which was designed and made by Dickinson resident Linda Little.
“I firmly believe that it (memorial) is something that is needed and has been overlooked,” Wanner said. “The more that I have worked with it, the more that I have talked to people, the more I realized how important it was to people.”
Once assemblage is complete, Dickinson Parks and Recreation will install a sprinkler system, landscape and hydroseed long grass at the site.
To bring the vision about, the veteran’s committee raised $700,000 for the project, all of which Logosz said was accumulated through donations from the city, county, local businesses and private donations.
People, he said, the project couldn’t have happened without.
“When we started this thing we were looking at an amount of money that people didn’t believe was possible to come up with,” Wanner said. “And we overcame those odds, simply through the generosity of people and the belief by the veterans themselves.”
The fundraising goal has been met, though the committee is continuing to sell $50 personalized bricks as a way to raise additional funds.
Logosz said the committee has scheduled a dedication for the memorial on Oct. 4, where dignitaries and community members alike are invited to the park as a way to celebrate the monuments' completion and all those who have served.
“This has been the only thing on my mind for the past three years,” Logosz said. “I have been working on a speech I will have to give (at the dedication). But I think it will be easier to stand up and cry.”
He said no words will be able to do the moment justice.
“I have thought about that moment for a long time,” he said.
Once completed, it will be the first memorial in any major city in the state, though some counties have monuments.
“None of the other major cities have a memorial as of yet,” Logosz said.
And this, Wanner said, is just the beginning of a succession of changes likely to happen at the park, including the potential renaming of the area from Memorial Park to Veterans Memorial Park, additional surplus military equipment on site, a picnic shelter and a playground, to name a few.
“We are hoping this will be a place where families will come spend some time looking at the memorial, reminiscing and kids will have a place to play,” he said. “This is a pretty nice memorial and we hope it will become a destination for people outside of the area.”
By Abby Kessler - The Dickinson Press