Warner Robins is a city that hates controversy, but has its share no matter the effort to avoid it. Where there are people there are problems and no matter the city, we tend to fight over locations -- where the new animal shelter will be located, and the law enforcement center and the like. Everyone has an opinion. We admit our surprise at the latest location battle: the site for the long overdue memorial to Vietnam veterans. The city wants to put it off Russell Parkway and Interstate 75, while the veterans group that has been working on the project through the terms of three mayors and numerous council members wants it on Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway which is right off Interstate 75, too. It comes down to price and some behind-the-scenes politicking, but let’s drop that for a moment and see where we can find agreement. In order to do that it’s imperative that all egos -- those of the veterans who have an emotional stake in the project and city officials -- leave those egos and past disappointments at the door. The mission is the get the memorial built.
The city and the veterans want the memorial. The city’s idea would attach it to a visitors center. Interstate 75 travels through six states and is the major north-south artery. Being adjacent to a visitors center would assure traffic for the memorial. The veterans have to realize their battle position. The city has taken the hill. They have the money and wherewithal to build the memorial without them. Should they want to? No. City leaders need the input of the fighting men and women who served in Southeast Asia.
Veterans also have to realize that a city-run site would guarantee that the Vietnam memorial would be sustained long after they are gone and this administration and council are history. The city is willing to spend more than $1 million to build the visitors center and Vietnam memorial. It’s our bet that figure will more than triple before it is said and done.
Is it possible for the two groups to sit down and talk? They already agree on the project, they just have to come together on some of the details. We would bet that with everyone at the table, the final design would be much better than if either side had taken their marbles and headed for home.