On Friday, members of the community flocked to the Blount County Courthouse to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice—and to see a historic event: the unveiling of a brand new War Dead Memorial.
51 years ago, a new War Dead Memorial was dedicated to the fallen heroes of Blount County and their families, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Over time the memorial began to deteriorate, and required restoration. Now, a lasting memorial and tribute to fallen soldiers stands.
The unveiling and dedication took place at the annual Blount County Veterans Day program on Friday, November 11, hosted by the United Veterans of Blount County.
The original War Dead Memorial, dedicated in 1965, holds a bronze statue of a solider cast in Italy and displays the names of fallen soldiers. As the memorial showed signs of aging and degeneration over the decades, members of the community joined local veterans to form a committee to address the rebuilding of the memorial.
The committee turned to Erik Hall of Red Chair Architects, and Hickory Construction, Inc. a licensed general contractor based in Alcoa, to lead the project.
The new memorial is more than revitalized—it now incorporates a plaza with walkways connecting all four monuments on the courthouse lawn and a bench to sit and reflect. These commemorative walkways, named The Veterans Walk of Honor, are lined with bricks engraved with the names of honored men and women who have served our country.
“The dedication and unveiling of the new memorial is a significant and historic event. We are honored to have built a legacy for the courageous heroes who have served our nation. It is a lasting tribute for their loved ones and members of the community to remember and commemorate these fallen soldiers,” said Hickory Construction President Ben Pinnell. “This is a project that will remain in our minds and hearts for many years to come.”
The dedication and unveiling of the Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza was just one element of this year’s Veterans Day program. The program honoring deceased veterans also included a moment of silence, reflections from key members of the community and refreshments
The master of ceremonies for the event was Veterans Service Officer for Blount County Nathan Weinbaum. A ribbon cutting was held by Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell along with Immediate Past Commander of the United Veterans of Blount County James Lawson, who originally spearheaded the rebuilding initiative for the memorial, and Steve Tipton, owner of Tip Signs, whose father was responsible for the building of the original 1965 memorial. Speakers included War Memorial Committee Co-Chair James Warner, who will speak on the history of the monument, and Fundraising Committee Co-Chair Marion Westerling, and major sponsors.
“We are thrilled to have shared this exciting new tribute with the community that is dedicated to our nation’s courageous heroes. We are grateful to those who helped fund this project, and who have worked to see it through to fruition. We feel the outstanding work of RedChair Architects and Hickory Construction honors the vision for this project,” said Memorial Fundraising Chair Marion Westerling.
More information on the Blount County War Dead Memorial and the Veterans Walk of Honor, including the purchase of commemorative bricks, can be found at www.blountwarmemorial.com.