ALPHARETTA, Ga. – One of Alpharetta’s better-kept secrets was revealed Aug. 22 at a special meeting of the Alpharetta Business Association when the ABA unveiled plans for a $100,000 bronze sculpture for a city Veterans Memorial.
The ABA met at Georgia’s Own Credit Union on Windward Parkway to make the special announcement. ABA member and City Councilman Donald Mitchell and Alpharetta Rotary President William Perkins jointly made the announcement of the sculpture, which will be placed in the park behind the new City Hall in the Alpharetta City Center.
The $100,000 is expected to be raised in time for dedication next year. The ABA kicked off fundraising efforts with a $10,000 donation.
“As a board, we wanted to do something special for the new City Center,” said Mitchell.
The sculpture is to be named “The Defenders,” but it will honor all military veterans who served their country. The bronze memorial will depict two soldiers in combat uniform taken from the Afghan War, but they are not representative of any one unit or any two individuals, Mitchell said.
“The artist, Kevin Chambers, interviewed military experts at Fort Benning in Columbus to get the details of the uniforms correct and see that their poses were militarily accurate. We worked hard to make sure the sculpture would be accurate,” Mitchell said. “But there are no identifying patches on their uniforms. We did not want to specify a particular unit. This is for all veterans.”
It was Perkins who brought the idea to the City Council. The city will provide the grounds and the maintenance, and the funds will be raised locally. He said growing up in his hometown, he got to know a neighbor who served in the Pacific in World War II, and that man’s service particularly impressed him.
“The older I got, the more respect I gained for him and all veterans,” Perkins said.
“In 2004, our club began sending care packages to soldiers overseas, and I thought that was a great way to show our support of the soldiers there,” Perkins said. “Then I thought we should do something to honor all our veterans – past, present and future.
“I talked with the mayor and City Council, and after the bond for the City Center passed, we began to make plans,” he said.
Several area sculptors who provided watercolor sketches of their ideas were interviewed for the commission. Chambers, who is an artist/sculptor, stood out and he was chosen.
“We visited four artists and asked for proposals. Kevin not only had a good bid, but he really connected with the idea of what we were trying to do,” Mitchell said.
Chambers spent six months working on maquettes (scale models) of the proposal. He would show them to the project committee and refine them until the current proposal was settled upon.
The memorial will be at the rear of the 5-acre park facing the back of City Hall. It is proposed to have a raised platform there suitable for programs such as a Veterans Day memorial service. It is envisioned that the colors will be raised at the “Defenders” statue.
“There will be a water feature in front of the memorial where the stream becomes a small pool. There will be a small bridge and the color guard will march across it to raise the flag,” Mitchell said.
At the unveiling, ABA Board member Alyx Korner spoke about remembering veterans such as her husband, Lt. Col. Bill Korner, who flew missions in Vietnam and in Desert Storm in Iraq. He was shot down more than once but always escaped to return to duty, Korner said.
“Where do we get such men to fight and preserve our freedom?” she asked. “They never ask why, they just go and serve. But our nation must never forget.”