One final push to complete a salute to veterans.
The citizens committee spearheading the creation of an “Honor Walk” at Veterans Memorial Park at Beacon Hill is sending an urgent plea to the public to help cross the finish line in fundraising efforts for the project.
When finished, the “Honor Walk” will be a $350,000 testament to veterans and, in the committee’s eyes, how veterans are embraced in Gulf County.
Taking shape on the park’s bluff overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the “Honor Walk” is a tribute to all those who served.
“Progress is steadily being made on the first phase of the Honor Walk,” said George Duren, a member of the committee. “Although we have begun construction on the initial phase of the project, funds are still needed to complete the project as designed.”
In effect, the committed has raised and committed more than $294,000 for the Honor Walk, most of that earmarked for the initial phases of construction which is laying down the concrete base for the walk, flags and monuments to the military branches.
The concrete work by North Florida Construction, costing $122,199, will provide the foundation for the Honor Walk.
Included will be concrete pads for the flag poles; an American flag will fly on a 70-foot pole while the flags of the military branches will surround the American flag on 50-foot poles.
For comparisons sake, the height of the flag pole at the Port City Shopping Center is 55 feet.
The concrete work will also provide the foundation for the 5-foot wide sidewalk around the Honor Walk, the rotunda, entrance and central pentagon as well as pads for benches.
Duren said the concrete work, including sidewalks and monument foundations should be completed by Memorial Day.
The flag poles were purchased with Tourist Development Council bed tax funds.
In addition, the individual military branch monuments, granite on a polished rock base, have also been ordered, at a total cost of $50,000.
But, there remain needs to complete the project as designed and fundraising remains about $56,000 short.
Those items include fencing, sod, landscaping, security cameras, flags and palm trees.
“Hurricane Michael hurt us in fundraising,” Duren said. “The committee wants to make this shortfall known to the public so those who can, will help us complete the fundraising so we can complete the final phases of the project.”
There are several levels for corporate and individual donors, ranging from Bronze ($1,000), Silver ($2,500), Gold ($5,000), Platinum ($10,000) to Diamond ($25,000).
In addition, the committee is offering the opportunity for those who wish to remember a specific veteran through brick pavers which will dot the Honor Walk.
Duren said the committee would like all requests for brick pavers to be submitted by April 1 so the pavers may be purchased in bulk, reducing costs.
The “Honor Walk” will fill an 80-foot-by-140-foot area along the park bluff.
At each point of the monument’s central pentagon, anchored by the American flag, the 8-foot-by-3-foot monuments for each branch of the military will stand, each inscribed with the Gulf County veterans who died in battle.
The “Honor Walk” will include seating behind the flags and areas for quiet reflection as well as brick and concrete walkways will thread through the memorial.
The entire area would be surrounded by a 4-foot high fence with pillars spaced along the length of the fence.
Walkways will extend 20 feet from the center in opposite directions.
“This will be a memorial that will bring visible honor to all veterans and especially those from Gulf County who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Duren said.
“Although construction has begun on the project, we have yet to fully fund it and are still in need of patrons who would choose to commit to some level of sponsorship.”
To learn more about fundraising efforts or to donate go to: http://www.VeteransParkHonorWalk.org.