Doug Bishop, chairman of the Jasper County Veterans Memorial Committee, said no matter what, they will begin breaking ground on the county’s new veterans memorial on May 1.
“We are planning on the last week of June for finishing up, so that by the Fourth of July we can have the dedication ceremony. It’s going to be beautiful,” Bishop said.
For the last several months, Bishop and the other volunteers that make up the committee, have been doing their best to raise funds for Jasper County’s newest tribute to its veterans, which will sit on the Jasper County Courthouse lawn.
To raise funds, the committee has had charity auctions, held various suppers, threw a “Second Chance” Prom and done everything they can do to ensure this project is completed without any tax payers dollars.
As the deadline for the groundbreaking is coming up very soon, Bishop said they are still about $16,000 short from being able to fully finance the project. He said they had garnered most of the funds through the brick sale — each brick was $100 and will have the name, rank, branch and short message about the serviceman or woman who it was purchased for — but costs rose when they decided to add the name of every Jasper County veteran who was killed in action.
“We’ve had great response from the veterans,” Bishop said. “We have 702 bricks that will be placed on the wall and we’ve made arrangements to have every Jasper County resident who was killed in action represented on the wall at no cost to the families.
“With that, our costs went up exponentially, because we have no funding to make that happen. But that’s the least we can do — they paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, the least we can do is make sure they are represented on the wall.”
In order to pay for the added costs, the committee is selling sponsorships. For $500, any business, group or individual will be granted 30 spaces to display their message, name or tribute on the memorial. Bishop said the plaque will be in a very prominent position on the memorial and they have 16 sponsorships so far, but are seeking another 34 for a total of 50.
“If you think about it, for a business, there is no better advertising. Number one, they are supporting our local veterans and number two, it’s something that will last forever,” Bishop said.
On the south lawn, just to the east of the current veteran memorial, six walls containing the bricks, a black granite memorial, two benches, two black granite columns and two bronze eagles will be placed. A second monument will feature a giant rock, similar to “The Freedom Rock” on the east lawn of the courthouse that will be painted by local artist every few years.
Bishop knows the added features are why his committee is still seeking funds so close to their projected groundbreaking date, but he say’s its worth it.
“We’ve spent countless hours combing records to find all of the Killed in Action,” Bishop said. “I think that, more than anything, makes it very important that we make sure that they are honored in a very reverent and permanent display.”
“We have a set of brothers on there from Mingo. I’ve been speaking to their sister — 75 years later for them to be honored and to be remembered … we had quite the emotional phone call. She’s looking forward to coming here and laying her hands on the bricks with her brothers names.”
Bishop said donations, no matter how big or small, will be turned away and you may mail them to Jasper County Treasurer, Attn: Vets Memorial Fund at PO Box 1387, Newton, Iowa 50208. You may also contact him at (641) 417-8885.
Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at, firstname.lastname@example.org