Phase Two underway

TUPELO – Phase Two of the city’s Veterans Memorial kicked off this month with the construction of an expanded walkway and dedicated areas for the military’s four major branches.
A 120-seat pavilion, also included in this phase, will come later.
When it’s done, the roughly $80,000 project will more than double the size of tranquil, flag-lined grounds overlooking a lake inside Veterans Memorial Park.
“We don’t want this to just be a place where you sit and be somber and reflect,” said Rex Moody, vice president of the city’s Veterans Council. “We want some place where folks can come and enjoy it with their family.”
The Veterans Council oversees and raises funds for the Veterans Memorial, whose initial phase was dedicated in 2008. It already has about $50,000 in the bank and will spend $20,000 on the walkways and military branch sites.
Those two elements will be finished in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
But more funding is needed for the pavilion, which Moody said probably won’t be in place until Memorial Day next year in May.
“Until it’s all finished – if it ever is finished – we’d like to keep adding to it to make it more family oriented where people can come and enjoy it,” he said.
The city Parks and Recreation Department, which houses the Veterans Council under its Sports Council division, donated labor to the project.
Starting last week, crews have been moving dirt for the sidewalks and the dedicated sites for each major military branch – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
When they’re done, Slayton’s Concrete of Tupelo will finish the job.
Each of the military branches will have an opportunity to decorate their sites as they see fit, said Don Lewis, director of the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department.
And various veterans groups will be able to add their own monuments to the memorial. These will be placed alongside the walking paths.
“Instead of the city deciding how to memorialize our veterans,” Lewis said, “this allows them to decide for themselves and to advise us on how to help them.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

EMILY LE COZ / NEMS Daily Journal