Adding names to war memorial evokes its own conflict
Since its dedication 26 years ago, the plaque on the Veterans Memorial at the Yavapai County Courthouse has been updated once, in 1992, to add the name of a fallen soldier in Desert Storm. The Yavapai County Veterans Memorial Plaque Committee would like to recast the plaque to add six more names, but some veterans want to keep the original plaque as is, and create a new one for those killed in the 21st century.
Phil Goode, co-chair of the committee, spoke to the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning about fundraising efforts to pay for removal of the old plaque located at the memorial on the west side of the court house, recasting and installing a new one, and having a rededication ceremony on May 30 or June 5. He estimates the project will cost about $4,000.
While he has support from many in the community and veterans' organizations, three individuals, all Vietnam veterans, object to the project's design.
Goode said Billy Clark, who was involved in the original monument project in the 1980s, wrote in to say he believes the current plaque should be limited to 20th century veterans only, and 21st century veterans should be memorialized on a separate plaque.
Prescott attorney Tony Shaw, the keynote speaker at the 1989 dedication ceremony, agreed. Originally, the monument containing a statue called "Dust Off" was to list those veterans killed or missing in action, Shaw said.
"Then they decided it needed to be 20th century - World War I and II, Korean War and Vietnam," he said, adding that they were not always positive they found everyone who could be listed.
Shaw, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, suggested the original plaque remain in place with a separate one for the 21st century veterans with room for any more that occur in the future.
"It is costly to do these plaques, and there is a place to add another," he said. "I think most of the Vietnam Veterans of America members are in agreement."
Dewey-Humboldt Mayor Terry Nolan, also a Vietnam veteran, concurred.
Goode said when Sgt. 1st Class Gary Streeter's name was added under Desert Storm on the recasted original plaque, he heard no reference made to 20th century veterans. One design compromise could be a second plaque attached to the present plaque, he said.
"A veteran is a veteran. We all wear the same green," said Jack Smith, District 5 supervisor, who would like to see all names on one plaque.
Rowle Simmons, District 1 supervisor, suggested the plaque committee revisit the design.
The committee was seeking the support of the county supervisors, and also asked for a waiver of the customary vendor fees and liability insurance required for the rededication ceremony.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Craig Brown said the county has to require fees, but he was willing to pick up the cost himself.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the project or who believes a veteran has been missed from the current or proposed plaque, may contact Phil Goode at 928-821-8009 or by email at email@example.com.
Criteria for inclusion on the memorial plaque:
A veteran must have been killed on active duty in a war zone; and born or raised in Yavapai County or claimed a Yavapai County town as home when enlisted.