Group to break ground on Veterans Tribute

Photo by Jill Pickett
A model of the proposed Hardin County Veterans Tribute. The planned location for the tribute is in the proposed Elizabethtown Nature Park along Ring Road.

The News Enterprise
July 29, 2010
By MARTY FINLEY

A tangible step toward the construction of the Hardin County Veterans Tribute in Elizabethtown will roll out later this week.

The Hardin County Veterans Tribute board is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony 10 a.m. Friday at Elizabethtown Firehouse No. 3 on Ring Road in Elizabethtown. The fire station sits adjacent to the site of the tribute.

"It officially validates to our community that this is real," said Rik Hawkins, member of the tribute's board and president and CEO of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.

The site for the tribute has been dedicated by the city between Freeman Meadows and Foxborough Estates subdivisions. City officials voted unanimously to authorize use of the land, purchased in 1999, and the tribute will serve as centerpiece of the proposed Elizabethtown Nature Park.

The board pitched the idea to the city last year, saying it would make a worthwhile addition to the park and an appropriate centerpiece. The board hopes to finish the tribute in time for Memorial Day 2012.

"We are still on track," Hawkins said.

The tribute is the brainchild of Vine Grove resident Gary Broadway, who started pursuing the idea after visiting a veterans memorial in Powell County during a road trip.

Broadway has said the tribute is warranted because of the number of veterans in the area and the county's proximity to Fort Knox. He recruited Hawkins and local sculptor and artist Rich Griendling to transform the idea into reality.

Fundraising is ongoing, but the board hopes to finish soon. Hawkins said the board needs to raise roughly $550,000 to cover the cost of the tribute. He did not provide details how much has been collected.

"Everything is moving forward, but we're not there yet," Hawkins said. "We're waiting for that magical moment."

By Griendling's design, the tribute is anchored by a five-sided star, with each side representing a branch of the military, and bronze statues erected on a marble base for each branch. Behind each figure, black granite monoliths etched with scenes representing the specific branch will stand. In the middle is a marble pedestal holding a pair of bronze boots honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action. Also in the middle, black granite benches will be arranged for visitors to view the reverse sides of the monoliths, according to the model. Flags will round out the memorial, with the U.S. flag in the middle and branch-specific flags on the outer edges. In addition to the various branches of the military, Griendling has said it will be a diverse statue representing both genders and multiple races.

The board has commissioned Griendling to begin work on the sculptures.

"My next two years are pretty much tied up in my workshop," Griendling said. "If you need me, you know where to find me."

Each sculpture takes about three months to complete, Griendling said. Upon completion of each sculpture, Griendling will send them to a foundry in Louisville for bronzing, which takes about four months.

He said an "uprising of support" has surfaced since the tribute was announced.

"We will need this support over the next two years," he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762

This story, written by Marty Finley, was provided to One Knox courtesy of The News Enterprise. Read more stories from The News Enterprise at www.thenewsenterprise.com.