Witt: Focus on local veterans memorial should be renewed

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, December 24, 2019

About eight years ago, the local Veterans Council undertook to erect a memorial to residents from Clark County who had given their lives during World War II and the Korean War.

It was then — and is now — odd that memorials exist here to commemorate the service of locals in World War I and Vietnam, but nothing for these other two conflicts which, combined, took more lives than the total from the two wars whose memorials stand on the courthouse lawn.

A design competition was held and a scheme selected.

From the beginning, progress was being shown. Several individuals and local companies stepped up to volunteer either services or materials for the memorial and memorials bricks were being sold to help finance construction.

These memorial bricks would contain the names of other veterans who did not give their lives in those conflicts, but who could be commemorated nevertheless by being a part of the memorial.

With a plan in hand, and commitments made to further construction, the next major hurdle was to find an appropriate location for the memorial.

While the courthouse square would be a fitting place for the memorial, there is insufficient room remaining there.

Some private property owners were approached in various locations around town, but nothing suitable has been found and no offers of land have been forthcoming.

For a time, it appeared the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and Maple Street would be available. A long-term, minimum cost agreement was performed between Kentucky Bank and the City of Winchester with the purpose of building the memorial there.

Unfortunately, the bank had to withdraw from the agreement as the site was being sought by CVS pharmacy for its new facility.

Now, after this period of time, the Veterans Council is still searching for an appropriate site on which to locate the memorial, one that would be easily accessible, near a major thoroughfare with the potential of having adequate parking nearby.

Ideally, the site should be sufficiently remote from a high traffic roadway so occasional events could be held there without interference from the sounds of traffic.

During the eight years this effort has been ongoing, many local World War II and Korean War veterans have passed away.

Those who survived World War II are now mostly in their 90s and Korean War veterans are close behind as only five years separated the two conflicts.

While those who will be commemorated in the memorial are not here to appreciate the reverence the memorial seeks to bestow on them, it is regrettable many of those who managed to return home from those long-ago conflicts will not live to see its completion as the rate of deaths among these veterans Is accelerating.

The Honor Flights which yearly take our aging veterans to Washington to see the vast array of memorials there extolling their sacrifices are deeply appreciated and serve to let these deserving individuals know their sacrifices are noted.

It is little to ask for a renewed commitment here to recognize their service, to pay a small tribute to what they accomplished, to what they survived.

It is little to ask this memorial be completed before there are none of those veterans left to acknowledge it.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.