TAYLORSVILLE — When Mayor Russ Wall told his staffers he wanted to do a Veterans Memorial outside City Hall, some thought he was dreaming.
After three years of collecting donations from businesses, months of preparation and hundreds of hours put in by sculptor Brad Taggart, the Veterans Memorial at Taylorsville was unveiled at Taylorsville City Hall on Saturday, June 30.
A six-person bronze sculpture depicts service members and their families. Three other bronze statues are on the ground level so visitors can interact with them. The memorial includes flags to represent the five branches of the military.
Some of the models for the sculpture were Taylorsville residents and all the soldiers were veterans. One of the models, Taylorsville resident Dan Neering, had only been home from Iraq two weeks prior to posing.
The sculpture also recognizes the various conflicts through the ages. The Navy seaman on the center pedestal represents the Korean era. The female pilot currently serves in the National Guard. The marine holding up the toddler wears a World War II uniform.
Taylorsville resident Steve Ashby helped get actual military uniforms to be worn by the models. "One of the problems was that the World War II uniforms were so small," said Ashby. "Many of those who entered the military during World War II were young — some even lied about their age to enter the war — and it was hard to find a model who could fit into the uniform."
The quotes on the memorial wall surrounding the sculpture remind residents of the unselfish many who risked their lives to preserve freedom. A committee of six veterans helped select the quotes. "We wanted to speak to (the service members') sacrifice and had to narrow it down, which was a difficult task," Ashby said.
Donald Adams, project manager for the memorial, is excited for the impact it will have on the community. “What really struck me was how many people have intense personal connections to a service member,” Adams said. “Everyone knows a veteran. We hope this project helps people internalize it.”
Taylorsville's mayor was thrilled as his dream became a reality at the dedication of the memorial. “There is nothing we can possibly give these veterans in exchange for all they have given us,” Wall said. “Ensuring that (the service members') sacrifices are not forgotten is one small way we can show our gratitude.”
The memorial will have granite pavers where the public can memorialize veteran family or friends, or show support for the project. Pavers can be purchased on line at taylorsvillememorial.com.
Aimee Newton is the author of the blog taylorsvilletidbits.com. She lives in Taylorsville with her husband and four children.