Warner Robins group tours veterans parks

chwright@macon.comJuly 11, 2013 

Vietnam veteran Tom McLendon, of Byron, looks at a wall of names at Jackson Veterans Memorial Park. McLendon joined two Warner Robins council members on a tour of four veterans parks in Georgia Thursday.

CHRISTINA M. WRIGHT — chwright@macon.com

JACKSON -- Three Warner Robins officials and two community members examined each part of a veterans memorial park in Jackson on Thursday afternoon.

“There goes the eternal flame,” said Jim Elliott, city attorney, as the group gathered around a torch encased in a glass box.

The park was the last of four parks Elliott, council members Mike Davis and Carolyn Robbins, Vietnam veteran Tom McLendon and Warner Robins resident Tony Foskey toured to get ideas for the park City Council plans to build in Warner Robins.

“We just want to build something for the veterans that the community can be proud of,” Davis said. “I want something unique in Warner Robins without reinventing the wheel.”

The city earmarked $900,000 in the 2012 special purpose location option sales tax for a veterans park and Vietnam veterans park. It’s uncertain whether the two parks will be wrapped into one.

The location also is not certain. Latest council talks have indicated it may be part of the newly acquired Walker’s Pond.

Thursday’s tour began at the Atlanta History Center, where group members spoke with a project manager of the memorial dedicated on Memorial Day. They then toured two parks in Alpharetta, one the city built and another a veterans group built, before heading to Jackson.

The group said each park had characteristics they liked and will use for inspiration.

“Looking at something that someone has done gives us an idea of what we can do,” Robbins said.

The park in Alpharetta that the American Legion Post 201 developed and manages was popular among the group. It includes every conflict from the French and Indian War to the Iraq War and includes a World War II tank, UH-1 Huey helicopter and T-33 trainer jet.

“It was a very honorable thing they did to try to keep their veterans alive,” Robbins said.

McLendon, Davis and Robbins pointed to the red-bricked “Walk of Memories” that winds through the park with names of fallen U.S. Armed Forces servicemen. The Legion uses its own funds to honor veterans who have been killed in action.

McLendon said he saw one such brick for a Centerville veteran whose parents he knows.

“I don’t even think they know it’s out there,” McLendon said, commending the Alpharetta organization for knowing about a veteran’s death from so far away. “They don’t even bother the families. ... They just do it.”

Robbins said she liked the technology incorporated into the memorial at the Atlanta History Center. A kiosk allows visitors to scan a code and read about veterans.

Robbins said council will hear a presentation about a veterans park for Warner Robins at Monday’s meeting and “start making decisions.”

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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