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Kingsport Tomorrow seeking funds for next phase of Veterans Memorial

June 5th, 2012 12:36 pm by Susan Kendrick Lauhoff

Kingsport Tomorrow seeking funds for next phase of Veterans Memorial

The Veterans Memorial in J. Fred Johnson Park, beside Dobyns-Bennett High School, was erected to honor those military personnel who have fought for our freedom.

Donning a new suit and hair style, we make our first stop for the boost we need to start the day at a popular coffee shoppe, then drop off the kids at school, drive the route to work or to ‘that’ meeting and run errands. While waiting for the red light at the intersection of Eastman Road and Ft. Henry Drive, we are concentrating on our ‘To Do’ list when the light turns green and we pass it again for the thousandth time without thought...


The Veterans Memorial in J. Fred Johnson Park, beside Dobyns-Bennett High School, was erected to honor those military personnel who have fought for our freedom so that we can wear what we want, drive what we want, worship where we want, work where we want, vote for whom we want, use the cell phone to talk with whom we want when we want, while listening to the music or talk show host that we want to listen to, as we plan a meal, vacation, move to a new home, or repair the current one with the contractor we want. Americans have more freedoms and rights than any other country in the world. It’s our freedom of choice that many of us take for granted every day. But it is freedom that was paid for with a price and, oftentimes, the ultimate price of American lives.


Completed in 2008, the memorial includes the engraved names of 342 fallen Kingsport natives who served from World War I to the War on Terror. The first phase was generously funded by private citizens, the City of Kingsport, Eastman and other local businesses.


Many have asked, "When is the second phase going to be completed?"


Kingsport Tomorrow has again agreed to coordinate efforts of the second phase. Architect Jim Henderson has designed it and GRC contractors have graciously agreed to build it at cost. Pavers have been cut and polished, and are being stored in a Georgia warehouse as a long list of donors are eagerly waiting to purchase them. However, the challenge has been the lack of institutional funds found by digging deep for the $150,000 needed to complete phase two.


Kingsport Tomorrow Executive Director, Susan LaGuardia shares that "Buying pavers is a good way to honor your service people and to leave behind a legacy. Fortunately, we have people wanting to make donations. Unfortunately, we do not have a big donor yet."


LaGuardia continued by sharing plans for the second phase to include areas of additional inspirational elements and space for visitor chairs to be used during ceremonies or other activities.


Among the many interested in realizing the completion of the Veterans Memorial is Vietnam veteran Jim Erwin who was instrumental in the first phase, which includes the names of 1,782 people who have served this great nation.


"I believe that the memorial is the prettiest art work in Kingsport. It is an outdoor history class," testifies Erwin, who supports his thoughts by adding that "there are 1,782 stories to be told by each name in the memorial."


Donations are tax deductible. To learn more about the Veterans Memorial or how to donate, please call 423-246-2017, write Kingsport Tomorrow at 301 Louis Street, Suite 303, Kingsport, TN 37660 or visit www.kingsporttomorrow.org.

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