ROSWELL, Ga. — Few subjects stir Roswell residents’ passions like the topic of the city’s war memorial.
Dozens of locals met at the Nov. 15 City Council meeting when officials voted unanimously to sustain an earlier community and staff-based recommendation for placement of two new memorial markers by the Faces of War Memorial behind City Hall. Councilman Matt Judy was not in attendance.
The new markers include one Blue Star Marker to honor members of the armed forces, and one Gold Star Families Marker to honor families who lost a loved one during service in the armed forces.
A final decision on where to place the markers was initially listed on the council’s consent agenda, which members usually approve with no discussion. But in a rare move, the item was considered in open discussion and allowed for public comment.
At issue was the exact placement of the memorial markers.
The Administration, Finance, Recreation and Parks Committee had initially decided to place the markers about 4-5 feet away from the walkway on either side of the war memorial. The idea was to make the markers even with the landscaping, said Deputy City Administrator Michael Fischer.
That decision changed, however, at the committee’s Nov. 12 meeting. During discussion, committee members recommended moving the markers about 2 feet farther from the war memorial for a cleaner view, Fischer said.
“[It’s] so that when you’re looking at the Faces of War, you can take it in as a whole with the landscaping that is there,” Fischer said. “Or, you can step back and look at it and both of the [memorial markers] are there.”
Attendees, including representatives of the Roswell Garden Club, Roswell Memorial Day and Roswell Rotary Club Committee, were not happy with the new placement.
“The placement is important for several reasons,” said Elwyn Gaissert on behalf of the Roswell Memorial Day Committee and Roswell Rotary Club. “These markers can bring closure to people.”
Vietnam veteran George Nelson, one of 12 original members who helped put together the war memorial, also spoke against increasing the distance between the markers.
“What is the significance of making that movement?” he said. “Why do they need be moved 2-3 feet? Unless you really, really have something that makes sense… then I hope you understand that veteran that’s been involved with this, every veteran that’s come to see this, would not appreciate the political side getting involved over 2 or 3 feet.”
Councilman Matthew Tyser said he was surprised to hear about the new placement.
“I have no objections to moving them to the original place,” he said before motioning for the original marker placement.