Memorial Day: Sarpy County War on Terror Memorial

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Each year we take a day to honor and mourn the U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May as flags line our streets and gravesites are adorned with flowers. For Rural Resurrection, it is a good day to look at how towns honor their local heroes through memorial parks. Not just to applaud towns for their good design of the memorials, but also for the effort it takes to fundraise and construct these memorials.

For the last two years, I wrote about two other memorial parks in Nebraska. Two years ago I wrote about the Higgins National Memorial Park in Columbus. A stunning tribute to not only local veterans but also Andrew Jackson Higgins, the creator of the Higgins Boat landing craft. Last year’s post was about the North Bend Memorial Park, a great example of what a small community can do when it pulls together to put together a great memorial park.

Getting Involved

This past year I have been privileged to be part of Leadership Sarpy, a program targeted to improve leadership and personal development skills for young professionals in Sarpy County, Nebraska. The program, much like other leadership programs in the country, also helps to form long-lasting friendships in the business community. During my time in the Leadership Sarpy program, I grew personally and made a few good friends along the way. It has had a positive impact on my growth as a leader and a representative in the community.

During the program, we were divided into groups and instructed to come up with a “legacy” project that would have a lasting positive impact on the County. One of our group members pointed to the American Heroes Park Volunteers and their quest to construct a memorial entitled the War on Terror Memorial. It was a subject matter that our entire team felt strongly about. We also felt that, with our combined connections and capabilities, we could help AHP Volunteers make happen. Our team me with Ed Frazier with AHP Volunteers and quickly set to work to help him and his group make this memorial a reality.

An Overlooked Need

Most of the memorials that are depicted on Rural Resurrection as well as others throughout the Midwest concentrate on World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Some add in the American Civil War, the Revolutionary War, or the War of 1812. But very few pay tribute to those who more recently gave their life in service to the country. Those lost in the War on Terror are rarely given the homage that they deserve.

That’s where the American Heroes Park Volunteers have stepped in. They have created a plan to construct a new memorial for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against terrorism.

The War on Terror Memorial is an add-on to the existing memorials already in American Heroes Park of Bellevue, Nebraska. At the center the have erected two flagpoles symbolizing the World Trade Center towers. There’s also a concrete model of the Pentagon and the number “93”, symbolizing United Flight 93. At the base of the memorial rests a plaque to recognize donors and community support. Also planned in specific locations throughout the memorial are individual spots for statues that give recognition to firefighters, law enforcement, and other entities.

The War on Terror Memorial

Planned to be poised behind the two flagpoles is the War on Terror Memorial. This is the current main focus of the AHP Volunteers group. At the center of this iconic memorial are four “T-Walls”. T-Walls are concrete barrier segments that can be quickly moved about to form a protective barrier in many forward bases during the War on Terror. They represent durability and protection for our armed forces. It’s a symbolism that is reflected through this tribute to those who did the same for our country.

Attached to the T-Walls are granite slabs that provide the dedication and additional information about the War on Terror. Other portions of the wall include aluminum sheets with the names the memorial is dedicated to punched through the metal. These voids will be backlit at night, providing a glow for each of the names.

Also planned in front of the T-Wall is a battlefield cross. This marker is often seen in the field, where a fellow troop member has fallen, or at a base camp. In the field, it typically consists of the fallen’s rifle¬†stuck into the ground between the soldier’s boots, with a helmet on top. Often, the dog tags are left hanging on the rifle stock. A bronze casting of this battlefield cross will stand between the T-walls and the flag poles.

Depiction of the front of the memorial; Image courtesy of AHP Volunteers
Depiction of the back of the memorial; Image courtesy of AHP Volunteers
Rendering of the of the memorial, including the battlefield cross; Image courtesy of AHP Volunteers

Not Just a Memorial Park

There is also a grand plan for the rest of the park that sprawls over 100 acres. The plan, as commissioned by the City of Bellevue, provides an image of a bright future for the park. Included is an activity/play area, a lake pavilion, trails, and a ‘great lawn’ with an amphitheater.

American Heroes Park rendering, Image courtesy AHP Volunteers website

Donate Now

AHP Volunteers have already acquired a notable amount of funding for the project. However, there is still a need to make this project happen. Our Leadership Sarpy group is still committed to making this project a reality. If you would like to contribute to the War on Terror Memorial, follow the Donate Now link below or use the following QR code. The link leads to the American Heroes Park Fund page of the Midlands Community Foundation. As the Midlands Community Foundation is a 501c3 entity, donations are tax-deductible.

American Heroes Park Donate QR Code

If you know of another memorial in a rural community that deserves recognition, let me know.

Christopher Solberg

About Chris Solberg

Though Christopher Solberg (AICP) works in a suburb of a metropolitan area, his roots are in Red Oak, Iowa, a community of 5,500 persons southeast of Omaha. He has spent a significant amount of his career helping small towns. Through his time working for a regional planning association and for a private consultant Chris has helped numerous small towns throughout Iowa and Nebraska. Chris is also currently the President of the Nebraska Planning and Zoning Association (NPZA) and a member of the NE APA Nebraska Board.