by Shawn Gainer
CLARKSBURG -- Fund-raising may begin soon for an elaborate monument to be placed at Veterans' Memorial Park.
After three years of effort, the Freedom Memorial Committee of Harrison County has secured a design and $20,000 through the state Legislative Budget Digest. The next step is to raise the remaining amount of money needed for the project, John Cooper, director of the city Parks and Recreation Commission, said.
A trip to the park led one county woman to begin the effort to have a veterans' memorial placed there.
Jeanne Miller, a retired master sergeant of the United States Army, had just entered a second retirement after working 10 1Ú2 years for the U.S. Veterans Administration.
"At the time, the VA was having a hard go of it by way of funding their services. I was concerned about veterans being forgotten and thought something had to be done to let them know they were remembered," Miller said.
"I was sitting in the park one day and thought it looked awfully empty," Miller continued. "I really thought a memorial of some type would be a great complement to the park overall. After all, it's called Veterans' Memorial Park."
Miller approached the city Parks and Recreation Commission with her idea, which led to the formation of the memorial committee. She takes little credit for herself, saying all the committee members worked hard to bring the project to this point.
The prospective memorial was designed by Georgette Griffith, an art instructor at Robert C. Byrd High School, with the assistance of one of her students, Cooper said. The design consists of a statue on an elevated, rectangular platform with four walkways leading to it. A circular granite wall with an entrance portal will surround the statue.
The names of 354 Harrison Countians, including one woman, who were killed in action from World War I to the Vietnam War era, will be engraved on the inside of the inner wall, Miller said.
"A lot of people from Harrison County have fought in wars, but it's my understanding that prior to World War I, the government did not document soldiers who were killed," she added.
Also, two semicircular walls outside the platform will be available for the names of county veterans who have served in the military or are currently serving in the military. With a total budget of approximately $350,000, the committee may use the outer walls as a fund-raiser by setting a price for engravings, which could be purchased by relatives of veterans, Cooper said.
He added the committee has not set a price and will take up the matter in a meeting Friday.
"It's a very workable project designed to honor all veterans," Cooper said.