Group hopes to expand veterans wall

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

 

Register/Richard Luken
Terry Ellis of Williams Monuments places new tiles in front of the Allen County Veterans Memorial Wall recently. Organizers have resumed selling tiles in order raise funds so that the wall can soon be expanded.

For the past 14 years, the Allen County Veterans Memorial Wall has been a centerpiece of local Veterans Day activities.
This year’s ceremony on Saturday will be no different, said Alfred Link, a Veterans Day Committee member.
Link will share a few tidbits about the wall, including hopes to expand it at both ends, and a bit of history about one of the newest names to be added.
Link will tell about Joseph Jackson, who was born in England before moving to the United States, and finally Kansas, at the outset of the Civil War.
Jackson joined the volunteer cavalry unit based in Iola during the Civil War and wound up being killed during the famed Battle of Westport in Kansas City, Mo., in 1864.
“We had no idea who he was,” Link said.
That changed during a recent phone call from a woman who identified herself as Jackson’s great-granddaughter, who was in Iola in search of Jackson’s name on the wall.
His name was one of the most recent ones added, Link said.
“We’re still getting names to put up there,” he said. “We just added six more.”
That leads to the desire to expand the wall, Link said.
With nearly 7,000 names of Allen County veterans, spanning the Civil War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wall has room for fewer than 500 more names.
The Veterans Day Committee already has permission from the Allen County Commission to extend the wall at both ends. They just need to find a way to pay for the project.
The wall originally cost about $40,000 to build. Link figures the committee needs another $15,000 to $20,000 to add two panels at each end.
The Veterans Day committee is once again selling tiles to be placed in front of the wall at $50 apiece. That was made possible by the addition of a new cement slab in former green space in front of the wall.
Even that chore required the help of several individuals and businesses, Link said.
“Payless Concrete donated the concrete, and Nelson Quarries gave us the rock,” Link said. Other donations came from New Klein Lumber and the Rental Station. Crews from Beatty Construction handled the concrete pour.
Terry Ellis of Williams Monuments will add new tiles to the slabs whenever they’re purchased. He’s already placed a half dozen or so.
Tile sales were an integral part of fund raising when the wall was first built, Link said, but the limited space filled up quickly.
“Now we have plenty of room for a lot more tiles,” Link said.
For more information about purchasing tiles, contact Link at 365-7149 or Wanda Lytle, 365-3545.