ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2017
By James Pruitt
The monuments at the Williams County Veterans Building in Montpelier are getting a whole new look. The project’s objective is a redesign of the monuments to better showcase the names of all the Williams County veterans who fought in the wars. The project is entirely privately funded and will take a couple of years to complete.
Project Manager Kevin Motter said the original material of the monuments wasn’t holding up, so two years ago the trustees decided, after exhausting all of their options with the manufacturer, to go a different route. The trustees want to save as much of the existing monuments and then start over.
“The idea of this is these are points of stars,” Motter said of the monuments which are arranged that if viewed from the air would look like a Congressional Medal of Honor.
The original monuments are set on concrete slabs that go down 4 feet. To maintain the theme, the new monuments will be made of black granite shipped from India and the images laser-engraved by a company in Indiana, Motter said.
The new monuments will only come up 2 inches off the ground as opposed to 18 inches for the current monoliths. “Just to give more room for the names on the outside,” Motter said. “It’s a cleaner, more modern design.” The new monuments will look like a troop ship when coming from outside of the circle. The interior faces will be inset with a field of stars resembling a folded flag, with the military shield emblazoned over the stars. The shield will remain the same for World War II, but will be changed for the other wars.
The interior walls will have laser-drawn images of the war and information about different phases. The exterior will bear the names of the soldier. “There is symbolism involved here,” Motter said. “This being inlaid gives us room for pictures and stories on the inside.” The first new monument has information and images from Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March. Later monuments will carry information for significant battles for the respective years of the war.
“We can carry those stories all the way through,” Motter said. “Korea will be a little bit different.” Fackler does the engraving of the names on the monument’s exterior panels. The font is larger to make the names easier to see and engrave. Also, it enables the effort to add more names of local veterans. “For World War II, we got to get 1,000 names on each monument because we had 4,000 from Williams County,” Motter said. “It’s going to take at least three years.”
Fackler had to create a stencil out of a plastic material and then engravers have to pick out the centers of the letters before they can take it into the room to sandblast it, Motter said. “Its labor intensive,” Motter said. The new monuments cost about $9,000 each and the veterans group is raising the money without any county, state or federal government contributions. The laser etchings are another $300 per photo.
“We have funding now for the first five,” Motter said. “We just had a World War II veteran pledge the price for one.” Any sponsorship will be recognized by a black granite plaque set in the pavement in front of the monument. This way the effort won’t be cheapened by advertising, Motter said.
The design concept was created by Motter and then turned into reality by Anthony Salazar of Fackler. The project will move on to the Korean War monument after the World War II tributes are complete. From there will be Vietnam and then the more current wars before the earlier wars are accomplished.
Eventually there will be lights added to the flag poles in the middle of the star points that will have red, white and blue lights to shine on the monuments for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Independence Day.