A group of veterans commandeered this week's City Council meeting.
Armed with emotional appeals and a model of a veterans' museum and cemetery planned for an area near Camp Williams, the project architect and three veterans urged the council to donate $1,000 for the "freedom shrine.""The people who served haven't asked for anything except to have their service remembered," architect Kevin Scholz said. "It has been said we are not giving the vets anything; they earned it."
Scholz said the state has donated the 23 acres for the project, and $1 million of the $1.2 million needed for construction has been raised. He said the federal government gave $600,000, the state matched some of the funds, and veterans raised some with bake sales and by selling poppies.
"It's disgraceful the veterans have to raise money for their own burials," Scholz said. He added that being buried in a veterans cemetery is so important to some Utahns that they have requested burial in out-of-state veterans cemeteries.
"Utah is one of only five states that has no memorial cemetery. Nevada has two. And the other states without memorials are little states like Connecticut," he said.
Scholz said veterans will ask Utah's larger cities to donate $1,000 each to the project. They plan to ask Salt Lake City for more, he said.
"It is meant to be a freedom shrine. It will benefit all the citizens of Utah, and we hope it will attract buses of school children.
"Maybe seeing the shrine will make us better citizens. Maybe we will vote. You hear a lot of lip service about patriotism. Well, here is something we can do, and we don't want to do it."
"Freedoms are not free," Randy Edwards, American Legion District 4 commander, said. "Someone has had to pay the price."
Veteran Richard Reid told council members the donation would be less than the $5,000 Orem approved to help sponsor the Miss Utah Pageant night parade. He said the memorial would benefit more Orem residents and last longer than the parade.
The group appeared before the council to ask members to reconsider donating to the project. The council previously had decided not to donate until council members are sure of what developers plan and convinced of the benefits to Orem residents.
The council postponed a decision on the $1,000 request until Councilwomen Joyce Johnson and Lucile Steele could be present.