WEST VALLEY CITY. Utah (ABC4) – As the nation gathers to celebrate Veterans’ day, a new memorial paying tribute to veterans is up and running in West Valley City, and officials say it’s one of a kind in the state.
On Thursday morning, dozens gathered for the unveiling of the memorial featuring a wall standing 8 feet high with names of 2,849 veterans with ties to Utah who gave their lives in service. Along with five flags flown at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow wanted this new West Valley City dedication site to highlight veterans with Utah ties. The one-million-dollar project years in the making comes to fruition after a few months after the city broke ground.
“Every Utahn will be recognized for their service and sacrifice,” as other memorials across the state may pay tribute to fallen soldiers from other parts of the country,” says Bigelow.
The mayor says once donations and funds were acquired to build the memorial, they were able to break ground on memorial day. Fortunately, due to the significance of the dates, the timing worked out that the city is dedicating it to veterans’ day.
The ceremony included local and state politicians who spoke about the importance of honoring veterans and what this memorial means to the community. As well as other community leaders, and veterans who spent time serving our nation.
Joe Day, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, said the memorial wall featured names of several people whom he served with. Day shared his appreciation for the memorial wall but was also heartbroken remembering those who stood in combat with who are no longer alive.
The veteran also says when he initially returned home It was difficult readjusting to a normal everyday life but he says his family played a major in him getting the help he needed.
“It’s heartbreaking when you don’t know what you’re doing and causing because of what you experienced” shared Day.
Representative Chris Stewart (R-UTAH) expressed an emotional message about why it’s important to keep in mind it’s more than just the servicemen and women who serve, it’s the families as well.
“For every veteran in Afghanistan, Iraq, or wherever they might be there’s a family member that worried and prays for them,” said Stewart.
Mayor Bigelow says the opening of Thursday’s memorial is just the beginning, he says the city has plans to expand this memorial into its own building as add more names of Utahan’s who not only lost their lives but those wounded as well