An idea for a veterans monument that started as a sketch on a piece of paper is now coming to life on a piece of granite more than five feet tall.
The names of 63 Clark County soldiers — all who were killed in action during the Vietnam War — will be on the memorial.
Local Vietnam veterans Randy Ark and David Bauer first envisioned the memorial late last year. The two believed a permanent place to honor those from Clark County who died for their country was needed, Ark said. Since then, more than $22,000 has been donated to complete the project.
“I give a giant, grateful ‘thank you’ to all of those who have helped along the way, and I give an even bigger ‘thank you’ to those men whose names are on the stone,” Ark said.
Ark and Bauer spent six months arranging multiple meetings with county and city officials to get permission to put the memorial in Veterans Park, located off of Fountain Avenue. Those included meetings with the National Trail Parks and Recreation District and city commissioners.
The countless hours of fund-raising will be well worth the effort, said Josh Walters of Dodds Monuments in Springfield, who is putting together the memorial.
“Both men have already given so much by their service and sacrifice, and it’s always the veterans that continue to give even after their service,” said Walters of Ark and Bauer. “It has really touched me that they’re making the memories of those who sacrificed the ultimate price last into the future.”
The memorial will be in the shape of a dog tag, with the fallen soldier’s names inscribed on it. A soldier’s cross will sit on the base of the monument next to the large granite dog tag, which will be more than 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It will be accented by stainless steel details on the dog tag and its chain.
The steel and the labor of adding the accents has been donated by the Spradlin Bros. Welding Company of Springfield. Any donations above the cost of the monument — estimated to be around $20,000 — will go toward landscaping and upkeep after its erection, Ark said.
The granite for the memorial has been shipped to Dodds Monuments. The goal is have the final product ready for a dedication ceremony by the fall, the organizers said.
Multiple steps were taken to make sure the name of each Clark County soldier who died was included in the memorial. Ark and Bauer sorted through the county veteran’s commission board records and solicited names through different media outlets. They wanted to double- and triple-check that no soldier’s name was missed, Ark said.
There will also be the opportunity to add more names to the monument in the future in case anyone realizes a name was missed, Walters said.
Bauer said he hopes the monument will bring peace to the families of the men who died in the Vietnam War.
“We are bringing 63 of our brothers home,” Bauer said. “They were dads, uncles and grandfathers, and this will open up the doors for their families to remember them.”
He and Ark hope this is the first of several statues that will honor Clark County veterans who have died in U.S. wars since WWII.
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See the sketch and view the 63 names of Clark County soldiers included on the monuments online at www.springfieldnewssun.com