Long-anticipated war memorial breaks ground in Winchester

Published 5:45 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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The question of how to honor living veterans and preserve the memory of those who’ve since passed away has long been debated in Winchester and nationwide. 

Clark County has a new response. 

On the morning of Wednesday, May 1, a groundbreaking ceremony for the upcoming World War II and Korean War Memorial took place at 14 E. Broadway Street. 

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“It’s [going to] be a great thing,” said Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed. “Today, they’re actually starting [to dig] dirt.” 

As previously mentioned, an effort to create a memorial honoring World War II and Korean War veterans has long been in the making. 

Beginning about twenty years ago, a group of veterans first came up with the idea for the project. 

However, after it appeared that plans were in the making, the project fell through and languished for some time. 

Yet a group of veterans – including Chuck Witt and Roy Hudson – continued with the vision, as did other members of Clark County Veterans Council, LLC, which qualifies as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. 

“All of these guys here have been putting blood, sweat, and tears into it for years…I think we should give the grunts on the ground a round of applause for this,” said Dee Birkes, a commodities broker with B. Schoenberg & Company and a U.S. Army combat veteran with the 82nd Airborne Division. “[We’ve] just [been] trying to make this thing happen forever. It’s awesome!” 

After Chuck Witt, speaking on behalf of the Veterans Council, addressed the City Commission last year with design plans, budget estimates, and more, votes were approved to proceed with the project. 

Among other features, the memorial will feature a wall listing the start and end dates of both World War II and the Korean War, flanked by a pair of pedestals showing maps and the locations of each veteran’s actions. 

The memorial will be framed by seven trees symbolizing seven years of war, with a flag pole lit to honor the service of prisoners of war (POWs) and those missing in action (MIA). 

Commemorative brick pavers will line the walkway, allowing donors to recognize the service of living or deceased veterans as well as those who have helped fund the project. 

Donations have already come in from organizations like the Marine Corps League.

Those who wish for a commemorative brick paver can do so for $100. 

Also, the Kentucky Veterans Trust Fund in Frankfort has approved a grant for $100,000 toward the project. 

To conclude the groundbreaking, Witt was pictured picking up a shovel, surrounded by fellow Clark County Veterans Council LLC members, including Winchester Police Department Chief James Hall, Partners in Education Executive Director Greg Yates, Jerry Cecil, and Circuit Court Judge David Ward. 

Hopes are for landscaping to be complete by fall. 

“It feels great,” Witt said. “We’ve got more fundraising to do, but I’m hoping that while this is under construction, people will see that we’re serious about it, and funds will start coming in.”