After about three years of work by various community members, the Williams Own Veterans Memorial is ready to be unveiled at a ceremony Oct. 19 at Monument Park.
The morning will start at about 10:30 a.m. with music from the Southwest Skye Pipes and Drums band. At that time the American Legion Patriot Guard will also ride their motorcycles around the loop to kick off the event.
The dedication ceremony itself starts at 11 a.m. Mayor John Moore will open the ceremony, and soon after the statue and monument wall will be unveiled.
"The monument is honoring those 14 Williams servicemen who died in action from the first World War to Afghanistan," said organizer John Holst.
The memorial will be dedicated in a military ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony will include Major Kim L. Gage, U.S. Army, the commander of the Navajo Army Depot, and Andy Tobin, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.
After the ceremony, the Williams Clean and Beautiful Committee will serve food at the park. The American Legion Cordova Post 13 will also put on a reception after the event.
History of the memorial
The idea for the Williams Own Veterans Memorial came about three years ago. The nonprofit group Inspirations, which sought to empower at-risk youth through educational purposes, had decorated a window at the Williams Masonic Lodge honoring veterans for Memorial Day. Moore, Danny Harness and Sue Tamulevich were all admiring the window.
"At that point we realized we didn't have any permanent veterans memorial," Moore said. "We called a meeting, got the American Legion involved, and from there it grew. There's been so many people that have donated money, donated time."
Moore said he especially wanted to thank Neil Logan, the artist who helped design the memorial and who sculpted the statue portion. Moore also thanked John Holst for coordinating the ceremony and a lot of the construction of the memorial.
The city of Williams also played a major role in the project by redeveloping Monument Park. City workers rebuilt some of the old failing structures at the park and put in new landscaping, rocks, rails and ramps.
The Williams Clean and Beautiful Committee and Jim Winbourn were also instrumental in improving the park. Several local contractors also donated labor toward the project.
Moore added that every county supervisor personally donated money to the memorial project.
Plans for the future
Thanks to several donations, Holst said organizers have raised enough money to pay off the cost of the flags and the construction of the monument wall, the plaques and the emblems, which was about $7,000.
However, Holst hopes to add a couple of other things to the monument in the future. The American Legion will sell about 175 bricks that anyone can buy to honor a veteran. With the proceeds from that project, Holst would like to create a plaque for a Medal of Honor recepient who is buried in the Williams Cemetery.
Moore and Holst expressed their thanks to everyone who has been involved in the creation of the memorial.
"It's something we're going to be really proud of," Moore said.