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Watauga Veterans Memorial set for Fourth of July unveiling

The Watauga Democrat - 6/28/2018

BOONE - After two and a half years of planning, development and fundraising, the Watauga County Veterans Memorial is set to be unveiled at 9:45 a.m. on the Fourth of July in downtown Boone.

"It's extremely gratifying to see the community involvement when people realized we were legitimate," said Lt. Col. (Ret.) George Brudzinski of the High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America on Monday. "It's a great feeling to know we're a week away."

The project, which started as the idea of the High Country MOAA, is now located at 567 W. King St. next to the town of Boone's downtown offices, surrounded by a covered 12-foot fence. According to Brudzinski, Suzie Hallier's "Time and Honor" is installed and the landscaping is done with some final touches left to do. On July 3, the fence will be removed and the memorial will be covered in preparation for the following day.

"I think all veterans are going to be pleased and honored by what we have done," Brudzinski said. "It is a great feeling, knowing that Watauga didn't have a memorial in a highly visible location before. You couldn't ask for a better location."

The construction process has been ongoing for three months. The memorial was built offsite at Clemens Welding and Machine Shop on Niley Cook Road before being assembled in late May and early June in downtown Boone.

According to Brudzinski, the logistics of the unveiling are going to be tough as West King Street won't be closed off, but he hopes all the veterans in the area will show up, as well as invited guests. The public is invited to view the unveiling.

Brudzinski also said there will be a surprise or two, but wouldn't offer any hints as to what they could be.

The memorial's centerpiece is an eight-foot ellipse with five directional pillars representing the five different service branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp and Coast Guard. The words "Duty. Honor. Country." will be engraved on the ellipse.

Three knee walls with sloping faces will surround the ellipse. One honors those from Watauga County who served and died in the seven major American conflicts: the American Revolution, War of 1812, American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The second will honor those in current and potential future conflicts and the third, located behind the ellipse, will honor those who donated to the project.

The location of the memorial at 567 W. King St. beside Boone Town Hall was approved by town council in March 2016 after a request by the High Country MOAA, noting that Watauga County didn't have a highly-visible veterans memorial for all county residents.

As fundraising efforts continued, a competition was opened for memorial designs in late 2016. A total of 19 designs were reviewed, which were narrowed down to three and then on Sept. 12, 2017, Hallier's "Time and Honor" design was selected as the winning design.

"This ellipse is, in my mind, talking to us about time," Hallier said on Sept. 12, 2017. "We pass around the sun in an ellipse, and that's how we mark time."

The committee of six who made the final decision were Boone Town Manager John Ward, Fred Schmidt, Lindsey Miller of the Turchin Center, High Country MOAA Director Col. (Ret.) Ben Covington, Boone Administrative Support Specialist Nicole Worley and Brudzinski.

"We felt that ellipse fit in with Boone," Brudzinski explained. "It fell right in to what we wanted to convey."

 
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