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Another way to 'never forget'

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Veteran and volunteer Steve Peckingpaugh, right, invited local military veterans to Memorial Park this week to offer input on a new memorial. The group also stopped by several spots around the park being considered for the proposed monument.
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Iraq and Afghanistan veterans had the chance Wednesday to see a proposed design for a possible monument recognizing the Global War on Terror. Veterans are invited to a second meeting at Memorial Park at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Henry County Memorial Park has dozens of monuments and special places set up to honor men and women who served the nation.

Local veterans met Wednesday in the evening shadow of the World War I Doughboy statue to discuss a possible new addition to the park: a memorial to those men and women who’ve served in the Global War on Terrorism.

Plans for the new monument were first unveiled during a 2017 community meeting at the HOPE Initiative building in New Castle.

An artist’s rendition of the stone wall calls for a monument that is 8.5 feet long and three feet tall.

The main features of the proposed monument are two black stones reminiscent of the World Trade Center Twin Towers that were destroyed during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The proposed monument also includes dates and maps of the military conflicts of the 1990s, starting with Desert Shield/Desert Storm and including Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Steve Peckinpaugh, himself a veteran of Vietnam and the Gulf War, invited fellow service members to Memorial Park Wednesday evening to see the proposed design and possible locations to install the stone.

Question of GWOT era

Afghanistan veteran Chris Guffey raised a concern at the beginning of the meeting about the conflicts of the 1990s being included on a monument for the Global War on Terror.

President George W. Bush authorized the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal for operations occurring on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

“You can keep the monument how it is, if that’s what you want,” Guffey said. “But you have to take off the ‘Global War on Terror,’ or you have to find out what the other operations are classified as.”

Peckinpaugh said he’d check on the various presidential orders and Department of Defense records to see if the Global War on Terror era extended back to the ‘90s.

Marine Sergeant Kenneth Norfleet agreed that everything should be double checked before any new monument is installed in the park.

“It has to be correct when it goes on there,” Norfleet said.

Possible locations

About a dozen people attended the meeting, along with park-board members Landon Dean, Sandy Wright, Gerri Williams and Rita Fisher.

The board members attended the meeting so they could get more information on the proposed memorial.

Dean emphasized the park board has not approved a design or location for the monument. Everything is still in the planning stages.

At one point in the evening, Peckinpaugh asked board members if there was any spot in the park the group of veterans should avoid when considering a location.

The board members didn’t say anywhere was off limits, “as long as it’s on this side (of County Road 100N),” Wright said.

The vets checked out several locations around the park, with stops near the new Omar Bundy memorial, on overlook near the shelters and the upper parking lot west of the 4-H barns.

The consensus of the groups was a flat piece of ground on the south side of Cannon Hill.

Marine Sergeant Major (Retired) Stephen Ahern said that location would be one of the most economical choices.

Guffey commented that he liked how the spot looked over Shively Lake.

The final design of the monument and landscaping are still being discussed.

Peckinpaugh pointed out a hardscape setting would require less maintenance and upkeep from park personnel or volunteers.

Peckinpaugh said the monument would be funded through donations.

“We can be as extravagant as we believe we can raise money for, including in-kind,” he said.

Second meeting scheduled

The group of veterans agreed to meet again at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Memorial Park Flag Plaza to continue discussions about the monument and a potential site.

Peckinpaugh encouraged Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to attend the meeting and be a part of the conversation.

“That’s what it’s about, those guys,” he said.

Peckinpaugh said veterans should also start thinking about forming a design committee and finance committee to make the GWOT monument a reality.

Once local vets have had a say in the proposal, Peckinpaugh plans to take the idea to the Memorial Park Board for official approval.