Fundraisers for the park include memorial bricks that can be purchased for $50 and pedestal plaques for $500 in bronze, $1,000 in silver and $2,000 or more in gold. To donate, volunteer or find information, write the Sequatchie County Veterans Memorial Park headquarters at P.O. Box 1565, Dunlap, TN 37327 or call 423-949-9000.
DUNLAP, Tenn. - More than 1,700 Sequatchie County service members have served their country since the Revolutionary War.
But until now, a memorial had not been established for them in their home county, according to a local group of veterans who have established the Sequatchie County Veterans Memorial taking shape on Rankin Avenue.
"We felt like it was long overdue," said Tommy Hickey, president of the group. "We started out with a hope and a promise, and we've been blessed."
Hickey, who was manning the memorial's headquarters on Rankin Avenue on Monday with fellow veterans Quay Tate and John W. Sims, said about half the granite slabs are installed and the remaining stones are at the engraver's shop, where the names are being cut into the 4-inch-thick black surface.
Hickey said the idea for a memorial formed in February 2010 when he and several other veterans were at a local restaurant talking about the lack of a memorial.
"There are only about 20 World War II veterans left in Sequatchie County," Hickey said. "There were over 600 who served."
Hickey, Sims and Tate, all Vietnam veterans, said a retired local schoolteacher warned them that "if this generation didn't do it, the next one wouldn't."
A dozen memorial park committee members chipped in $100 apiece to open a bank account for fundraising, Hickey said, noting some of the work on the memorial has been in-kind and donated services, such as bulldozer work.
On Monday, the V-shaped concrete wall was complete with a concrete walk in front of the first 10 of 20 granite panels. Landscaping and a walk made of memorial bricks are some of the remaining parts of the project, officials said.
The next addition to the site will be a fighter jet, and possibly a couple of two-track tanks and a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter, officials said.
Hickey estimated the entire project would cost more than $500,000 if not for local help and donations. But funding still is about $40,000 short, he said.
Hickey said officials still need local folks to buy bricks and plaques or to donate to the project.
"It's something the county, the town and the state should be proud of," said Juanita Tate, who was buying memorial bricks for several family members. One of her earliest soldier ancestors was Doc Tate, a soldier in the Civil War, she said.
"I have three brothers who served in World War II, and their names will be on there," she said of the memorial.