Statues coming to Veterans Memorial
FAIRMONT — Phase one of the Martin County Veterans Memorial will soon be complete with the installation of four statues in front of the east side of the memorial wall, according to Chuck Mixson of the Martin County Veterans Committee. Mixson shares what the four statues will represent, as well as plans for the future of the memorial.
“We’ve got the four statues coming, and they should be here by April 1,” he said. “We’ve got ten statues in all that are being made, but the four that are coming will complete the front of the wall.”
Mixson said that names are usually given to statues when they are placed, and the four going in will simply be called “Honor.”
“Basically, it’s honoring veterans from the VFW and the American Legion,” he said. “We’ll have an American Legion young man kneeling, presenting the tri-fold flag to a 45-ish old woman. We picked that age because at 45 you could be a mother or a grandmother at that age.
“So the American Legion guy and the woman will both be holding the flag as if he’s just handing it to her. There will be an older VFW gentleman standing behind him, standing at attention. Then standing behind the woman will be a 5-year-old boy, and he will have his left hand on her shoulder while saluting with his right hand.”
Mixson stated that the child statue was inspired by a real-life event that he experienced.
“This happened to me at a funeral,” he said. “A little boy was standing next to his grandmother and saluted me when I presented her the flag. Then I stepped back and held the salute for the duration of the ceremony, and the little boy did, too.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place at the time,” he said. “To me, it was one of the more poignant things I’ve done in my life, which gave us the idea for the statues like that. So we’ll have a young veteran, old veteran, middle-aged woman, and a young boy as the next generation.”
The statues will be placed in front of the MIA/KIA section of the wall, which is the east end of the wall. Mixson noted that each facet of the memorial carries symbolism meant to evoke different thoughts.
“If you look at our memorial, we have our red granite sign that says ‘Martin County Veterans’ Memorial. That is red for a reason. The red granite represents the blood shed for our country.
“The [memorial] wall is black (representing the lost lives) and it’s in an inverted ‘V,’ which stands for valor. Then we had a contest about 4 years ago and a young lady designed our challenge coin, and that’s what you see in the middle of our wall. Under that are the names of all the veterans.
“Then on the west wall of our memorial is where all of our sponsors’ names are, along with the insignias of the branches of the service, and our mission statement.”
Mixson stated that the intent behind the design and statues at the front of the wall is to represent what most people see at home. However, the back of the memorial is designed to be a little different. Mixson shares that construction to finish the project will begin within the next few months due to a bond received from the state.
Behind the main wall will be a retaining wall, and on the eastern side will be the outline of a ship’s bow. There will be a patio next to that with the statue of a sailor ready to board his vessel.
“That will all be lighted, and then we are building 300 feet of sidewalk that will go all the way back to the helicopter. It will go down the east side of our property and hook up to the helicopter pad and then go back to the walking path.”
Mixson shares that more statues will be seen along the path, each representing major conflicts: both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and present-day Afghanistan/Iraq. Along the sidewalk will also be five benches, one for each branch of the service. Each bench will have a patio where people can sit and see the five statues from a different perspective, and lights and security cameras at every bench will be there to deter vandalism.
The statues were made by Brodin Studios of Kimball, Minnesota. Those interested in learning more about the memorial can check out the website at mcvm.org