Hall Of Heroes

Group of volunteers need help building local monument to all U.S. veterans


When the replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall visited Payson last month, local residents started wondering out loud why someone hadn't devised a plan to erect a permanent local memorial to all the nation's military veterans.

Well, someone did.

About seven years ago.

And if all goes well, the tentatively-named Veteran's Memorial a block and concrete structure that will fly Old Glory, the Arizona state flag, and the POW/MIA flag will be standing in Green Valley Park by December.

The project was given creative life by the late American Legion Commander Arlene Kreuder but wasn't officially initiated until almost two years ago.

"Our committee started out with about 45 people; we're now down to five," said Vietnam veteran Sherman Alston, president of the Payson Veterans Memorial Committee. "At first, a whole bunch of people jumped on the bandwagon, eager to get this thing going. Then all of a sudden, one faction fell out here, another faction fell out there. It's typical.

"But the five of us who are left are bound and determined, no matter what goes on, to get this thing done," Alston said. "We're gonna make sure this happens."

Those five are Alston; Joe Tunno, the committee's vice president; secretary-treasurer Mary Alice Haithcock; and board members B.J. Hunt and Don Meyers.

The team's next step is to finalize all drafting details within the next two weeks, and then present them to the Payson Town Council.

It is the committee's hope to erect the memorial near the outer, parking-lot edge of the area in Green Valley Park where the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall replica stood last month.

"If we can get the money in place, we're looking at somewhere between September and the end of the year for the Memorial to be completed," Alston said.

Five or six possible designs for the memorial were submitted soon after the original committee's creation, and the selected design just so happens to be the work of Sherman Alston, who says he wanted to create "a tribute to all veterans that served in the military. No particular war. This will honor everyone."

If a contractor built the memorial, Alston said, the cost would range between $16,000 and $18,000. "But If we can get the community involved, to volunteer labor and materials, we could do it a lot cheaper than that.

"Some people have said, 'That's a lot of money for a memorial.' But we feel if we're going to do it, we're going to make it attractive, and we're going to make it so it'll be there for years to come for people to enjoy.

"We're just going to need help from the community to try and finance this thing."

One money-raising proposal is to sell plaques that would become part of the memorial, which could bear the name of the purchasing family or a veteran the family would like to see remembered.

"The profits from that would help maintain the memorial, and any excess would be handed over to Veteran's Administration hospitals or functions," Alston said.

To donate labor, materials, money, or help develop the Veteran's Memorial, contact the American Legion at 474-6969 and ask for Sherman, Joe Tunno or Club Manager Kathy Alston, Sherman's wife.

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