By Johnny Jackson
Government officials anticipate as many as 300 people will participate in Henry County's Veterans Wall of Honor Memorial Day Service, scheduled for May 31, at 10 a.m., in McDonough.
"For the first time, all of our veterans groups are going to come out together for the service," said Henry County Manager James "Butch" Sanders, one of the event's organizers. Sanders said the county has been preparing to host the event by making needed repairs and improvements at its Veterans Wall of Honor at Heritage Park, 101 Lake Dow Road in McDonough. He said the county has committed roughly $10,000 in renovations to the monument.
The monument has seen notable wear and tear since it opened to the public in 2008, said Sanders, adding that officials have been pursuing public and private sources to help fund the Wall's continuous upkeep.
The county manager noted that the most recent repairs were made possible with the use of internal county resources. Henry's SPLOST Capital Projects Director Ron Burckhalter, Facilities Maintenance Director Mike Keeble, and Parks and Recreation Director Tim Coley oversaw repairs to the monument, and will be involved in efforts to maintain it.
Most of the work over the past few weeks has been at the foot of the monument, including the stairway which connects the Wall exhibit to the POW/MIA exhibit. The steps have been recast to resemble large bricks, and the lighting along the way has been replaced and weather-proofed.
The county has also incorporated two ramps for the disabled, which lead patrons from the upper monument to the lower monument. Sanders added that much-needed repairs to cracks in the Wall's concrete sidewalks should be complete by Memorial Day. "We've got a growing list of things we'll have to tackle over time, he said. "But the people I've talked to were very pleased with it, so far."
Henry County's District V Commissioner, Johnny Basler, said many people have made inquiries about the Veterans Wall of Honor and its progressing renovations. "I've gotten a lot of input about it," he said. "All in all, it's really nice that the community has got something like this."
U.S. Navy veteran Joanne Consalvo-Mulvaney, the monument's founder, told the Henry Daily Herald in a previous interview she was glad to see the repairs and improvements made to the wall. "The Veterans Wall of Honor is a beautiful monument that needs to be cherished and held to the highest honor, for it is sacred ground and represents, honors and pays tribute to all of our active-duty troops and veterans, peace and war-time alike, from all 50 states," Consalvo-Mulvaney said.
U.S. Air Force veteran Mike Moon reiterated Consalvo-Mulvaney's sentiments. "I'm very happy with the repairs that are going on," said Moon, chairman of the private-citizen group known as the Veterans Wall of Honor Preservation Committee. "They're having to get it done as quick as they can. I understand that, with the down economy, it's going to take some time to get it done."
Sanders, the county manager, said there will be continued efforts to form public and private partnerships to help fund the upkeep of the Wall of Honor. He said the county is looking into creating a foundation to help support the monument financially.
To learn more about the Veterans Wall of Honor or its Memorial Day activities, visit www.veteranswallofhonor.org.