SIERRA VISTA — A group of veterans are envisioning a major revamping of the memorial at Veterans Memorial Park that will incorporate a V-shaped path to honor the four branches of the military, as well as the various veterans’ services that have touched Cochise County.
The V-shaped path — which on the high end could cost about $400,000 — will be paid for via donations from the public through fundraisers. The largest being a pavers program where individuals and corporations can purchase a custom-made paver for the path.
“The ‘V’ is for veterans,” said Glenn Hohman, chairman of board of the Sierra Vista Veterans Memorial Improvement Foundation, the group that came up with the idea. “This will be a memorial for all veterans.”
The Sierra Vista City Council is expected to pass a resolution Thursday night re-affirming the panel’s support for the project. Council members initially passed a resolution in 2016 approving of the foundation’s plan to improve the memorial at the park.
Hohman said Wednesday that a group of “like-minded” veterans got together three years ago and decided that a larger, more significant memorial should be built at the park to honor the many veterans who have had an impact in the area. The group started the foundation and got to work.
They designed the V-shaped pathway — each side of the V is about 200 feet long — to signify the word “veterans.” There will also be 13 markers along the pathway recognizing the four branches of the military, as well as the various veterans services in the area. Those would include the Cavalry, Buffalo Soldiers, Signal Soldiers, women in the service and those who have fought in combat, among others.
“We wanted to recognize every group of veterans who had an impact in the area,” Hohman said. “We drew some plans but then took it outside mainly to veterans service organizations and civic organizations. We asked (people) ‘Do you agree?’ and the response was overwhelming.”
Hohman said many of the people they showed the project to were unaware there was a memorial honoring veterans at the park.
Others said that improving the current memorial was overdue.
The current memorial will not be removed, Hohman said. But it will be moved slightly so it can be incorporated with the new design, he said.
The overview of the new memorial includes the granite monument, the flagpole and three benches that are currently at the park.
The latter will be placed in the center of a plaza-like area that will be for ceremonies, etc. The front portion of the plaza — which Hohman referred to as the apex — will be a reflection area. The two legs of the V will branch out of the plaza on either side. The plaza will be 23 feet wide.
For now, the V-path will be constructed of asphalt and the pavers purchased by the public. The cost of the pavers — which will be offered in three sizes — has not yet been determined.
The project — the groundbreaking has not yet been scheduled — has been recommended to council members by the city manager, the deputy city manager and the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission. In a memo to council members, Leisure Services Director Laura Wilson praised the design of the project.
“Its location as the front and center of the park makes sense for a highly visible memorial,” Wilson said. “The proposed design does not impact any trees currently located in the park, or any current use of the space for events such as the holiday tree lighting, and it adds capacity to the space by expanding possible use for ceremonies.”
Wilson also said the foundation will maintain and care for the V-path and memorial for 10 years after the project is completed.
Hohman said the foundation will soon publicize information concerning a pavers website where the public can place orders. Other fundraising efforts will likely be on tap, as well, as the project groundbreaking gets closer.
The 45-year-old Hohman, a Sierra Vista resident who served in the U.S. Army and fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, is excited about the future memorial.
“It’s amazing because when you just think about that it’s estimated that more than 1 million veterans who have served are in and around Cochise County, Fort Huachuca and Sierra Vista, this is an opportunity for us as a community to acknowledge that,” he said.