JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Part of a city’s identity is acknowledging and honoring its past. The John Creek Veterans Association wants make sure that includes remembering the veterans of the city with an appropriate memorial at Newtown Park.
At the Jan. 14 City Council meeting, the JC Veterans Association received the go-ahead from council to begin soliciting the $300,000 for the memorial.
The vets agreed to take on the project at the suggestion of Leadership Johns Creek, a program sponsored by the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce that develops community leaders in a nine-month course that includes having Leadership members create a project that will benefit the community.
Gerry Lewis, president of the JC Veterans Association, said when members of the 2013 Leadership class approached the organization, the veterans enthusiastically agreed to be the point men for the memorial.
“There is no current memorial for our veterans anywhere within the city limits,” Lewis told the City Council.
The veterans were asking the city to dedicate about 1 acre of idle land in Newtown Park next to Park Place, the park’s activities center. It would be transformed into a quiet place of reflection and solitude, as well as a memorial for veterans.
“It is a secluded, natural spot,” Lewis said.
The design includes several markers noting all of America’s wars since 1900, benches, brick pavers (suitable for sponsored purchase) and a granite memorial, he said. There will be markers for all of the conflicts, each with its campaign medal engraved as people walk through the memorial.
“The entrance plaza will have a curved wall with the service flags and benches. There will be a separate handicapped entrance to access the path,” Lewis said.
They plan to break ground on Memorial Day and have the unveiling on Veterans Day 2014.
With the City Council’s permission, the veterans will now begin their fundraising efforts, which are to include corporate sponsorships as well as appeals to residents and civic organizations.
After giving the project the city’s blessing, the council said the plan was ambitious and impressive.
“It looks like an incredible project,” said Councilman Ivan Figueroa.
Veterans Association member Wayne Kidd said the budget of $300,000 is not “pocket change,” but the organization expects an affluent city such as Johns Creek will embrace the project.
“This is a just cause, and we believe the city will respond,” Kidd said.
The veterans already have a “comprehensive list” of corporate sponsors to call on, which they expect will shoulder 75 percent of the main costs.
“There are 1,900 businesses in the community, and we plan a direct mail campaign. Then, there will be community appeal to the average guy,” Kidd said.
Ultimately, the memorial garden and path will be a part of Newtown Park and will also be an amenity for all of the park’s users.
“This is not for veterans only. We see it as something all residents will use – joggers, families on picnics and people just looking for a peaceful place to walk,” Lewis said.