The Payson Veterans Memorial stands in silent testament to many different men and women. First and foremost it honors those who have served and are serving our country. It is also a monument to those who put their heads, hearts and hours of energy into creating it. Finally, it also represents the inspiration found in another commemorative structure -- the traveling Vietnam Wall.
The story of the Payson Veterans Memorial was recorded in the program published for its dedication, Memorial Day, May 28, 2001.
It was not until the traveling Vietnam Wall came to Payson's Green Valley Park in May 2000 that a long-planned vision for a Payson Veterans Memorial started to become a reality.
That vision came from a group of local Payson veterans, members of the American Legion Post 69 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9829.
The concept had been developing for several years, but debate and indecision about its look, location and the funds to build it, kept the idea from taking root and being built.
Seeing the community's reverent reception to the traveling Vietnam Wall, Payson veteran Sherman Alston formed a Memorial Committee.
Under Alston's leadership, another Payson veteran, Jim Spencer, was instrumental in raising funds for the project and soliciting outside support of volunteers. Others worked on a presentation for the Payson Town Council to seek permission to build the monument in Green Valley Park. The official response was unanimous support from the council and the town staff.
The Payson Veterans Memorial is 6 feet 4 inches high and 76 feet in length. It acknowledges the 2,882 Arizona veterans killed or missing in action at the time of its construction and contains 23 bronze plaques. Three flags are part of the memorial, the U.S. flag on a pole 40 feet high; and the Arizona and POW/MIA flags on poles 30 feet high. The flags fly continuously, with illumination from dusk until dawn.
It cost only $55,000 to build, but would have been substantially more expensive if not for the generous contributions by area contractors and volunteers.
The Veterans Memorial Committee included Sherman Alston, Bob Cuthbertson, Jim Gibson, Mary Alice Hathcock, Bob Hunt, Keith Lierman, Chuck Longenbaugh, Don Myers, Lee Pretsch, Ray Schum, Jim Spencer, Joe Tunno and Buzz Walker.
Benefactors for the Payson Veterans Memorial were: Gila County Board of Supervisors, Tonto Apache Tribal Council, Payson Town Council, American Legion Post 69, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9829; Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Payson Regional Medical Center, businesses and clubs, Arizona Public Service, Brooks Drafting, Chaparral Pines, Double D Construction, Energy West, Fiesta Business Products, Messinger Payson Funeral Home, Mogollon Sporting Association, Payson Concrete & Materials, Rim Country Rotary, The Rim Golf Club, The Rock Yard, Rotary Club of Payson, Roy Haught Excavating, Stockmen's Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Young ERA Realty and Zane Grey Kiwanis; and individuals Wayne Bentson, Paul Gonnerman and Lee and Joe Pretsch.