Lexington's Vietnam Veterans Memorial gets a new home

jwarren@herald-leader.comNovember 9, 2012 

Lexington's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which has been located downtown since the 1980s, will be getting a new home next year.

Mayor Jim Gray said Friday the Urban County Government plans to move the memorial from Phoenix Park on East Main Street to Veterans Park, on the south side of town, where it eventually would become part of a "linear walk" with other memorials for veterans.

In effect, Veterans Park will become a permanent home for current and future memorials honoring veterans in Lexington, the mayor said.

"This will be an accessible place for reflection and appreciation," Gray said. "The location ... will be both a destination and a place for families and our citizens to remember our veterans and all they have contributed to us."

Gray, who announced the plan during a community Veterans Day program at Henry Clay High School, said officials hope to move the Vietnam memorial to Veterans Park by the middle of next year. That got a cheer from the audience.

Officials will conduct a survey to find other existing memorials that could eventually be moved to Veterans Park. The Department of Parks and Recreation is working on plans to develop the proposed walk, he said.

The city will seek private financial support, as well as using its own funds for the project, the mayor said.

Veterans Park, located off Clearwater Way, already has a 1970s-vintage Army tank on display, along with flags of the armed forces and a marker honoring Blue Star Mothers whose children serve in or have served in the armed forces.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, made from slabs of black granite, bears the names of Lexingtonians who lost their lives serving in the Vietnam War. It was dedicated in 1984 in what was then known as Central Park, which was renamed Phoenix Park in 1990.

Moving the Vietnam memorial apparently would coincide with the city's recently announced plans to renovate and beautify Phoenix Park.

On a related matter, Gray also said Friday he is naming a Veterans Advisory Council to advise him and city officials on ways Lexington can honor veterans, while keeping leaders informed about issues related to veterans' needs.

The council will be headed up by Lexington Fire Chief Keith Jackson; Rick Curtis, administrative officer to the Lexington Department of Public Safety; and Tom Baker, who heads the Bluegrass Military Affairs Coalition.

The goal is to help veterans "not just on Veterans Day but every day throughout the year," the mayor said.

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Jim Warren (859) 231-3255.

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