About a year ago, Lane Regional Medical Center was approached by a group of people, some of them veterans, who wanted to build a new memorial behind the hospital, paying tribute to veterans from throughout the region.
“Many vets did not receive their due recognition, especially those who fought in Vietnam because it was an ugly war,” said John Taylor, a veteran from Zachary.
Taylor was asked to lead the charge for the group, which formed a park committee and tasked members with planning, vision, capital funding and construction of the new Regional Veterans Park.
The committee met every Monday during the past year, enlisting the help of businesses and business leaders in donating their goods, services and time.
Expertise was sought from a local CPA’s office in the formation of the Regional Veterans Park Association and in earning nonprofit status; legal counsel from a judge; architect renderings and design work from a local firm; brochure design work and printing from a local shop; postal assistance from a community bank; and the use of a conference room for committee meetings.
“This is a way for people to honor the courage and sacrifice of those who have served and are still serving in the armed forces of the United States of America, while providing a place for the entire region to come and remember and thank those who committed themselves to protecting our rights and freedoms,” said Taylor. “But you don’t have to be a vet to become involved; you can be a patriot and join the Regional Veterans Park Association.”
The entrance to the park will include a 12-foot metal archway featuring the six military branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines — as well as on park benches along the trail, Taylor said.
The focal point of the park will be the Wall of Veterans built with brick pavers engraved with the names and service information of local, regional, state and national veterans.
The 4-by-8-inch pavers will have room for three lines of type, 18 characters per line, and an honorary certificate will be sent to the families of veterans memorialized on the pavers, Taylor said.
“If you have a loved one who served that lives in Wisconsin, and you wish to honor them, you can,” he said.
Construction of the park, estimated at about $41,000, will be funded by Park Association annual membership dues of $25 per person; brick pavers at $100 each; monetary donations from businesses and residents; or the purchase of a sponsorship package. All donations are tax-deductible.
The committee envisions partnering with service organizations, Scouting and youth groups and students for educational events and public projects, Taylor said.
To donate, email info@RegionalVeteransPark.org or visit www.RegionalVeteransPark.org. For information, call one of these committee members: Greg McDougall at (225) 202-8126, Frank Ragsdale at (225) 278-8281, Taylor at (225) 654-2093 or Bill Waters at (225) 933-0100.