Organizers of a proposed veterans memorial in Union said plans for this type of project are more than 10 years in the making.
Mark Vincent recently approached city officials as part of the grassroots organization called the “Foundation to Honor Missouri Disabled Veterans” to work toward the better of all veterans throughout this area.
Union aldermen approved a request by the group to name a proposed east park “Veterans Memorial Park” if a sales tax initiative is passed June 5.
The tax revenue would fund the park that would include sports fields and other amenities, such as walking rails and “passive” park areas.
Vincent explained that the park and veterans memorial are generated from separate sources that could come together.
The idea of a memorial was not created to promote the citywide sales tax, he said.
The group of veterans, and others, are organizing to help design the memorial and raise funds to build it. The memorial would be placed at the entrance of the proposed east park and sports complex that would be funded if a sales tax is approved.
He sees this park as an opportunity to incorporate a veterans memorial in Union, not as a ploy to garner support for the park.
“This is not the first time we have tried this,” he said.
According to Vincent, between 10-15 year ago, a memorial was discussed while a group of local residents called the Franklin County Youth Development Association made efforts to build a park in east Union.
“The park did not move forward and the disabled veterans memorial did not move forward,” he said. “We tried this before but it didn’t work because there was no park.”
Vincent added that state organizations, including the Missouri Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans office, were heavily involved in past efforts to locate a disabled veterans memorial in Union. It would be the first of its kind in the state, and possibly in the nation.
With the tax initiative on the horizon, Vincent said this is another chance to move forward with the memorial that would be funded with private donations.
“This is not a game that we are playing. The best place to have this is a park,” he said. “What a better way to match veterans and young — family with family.”
Vincent told The Missourian that recent questions into the intent of the name “Veterans Memorial Park” were troubling and inaccurate.
He stated that the election framework, including the date, were set before the Foundation to Honor Missouri Disabled Veterans approached Union officials requesting they name the park to honor veterans.
“All of those was done before veterans came forward,” he said.
Vincent further added that the memorial would be for veterans statewide.
He said that he would be willing to meet with anyone who still believes that the memorial is a concerted effort between the city and the veterans group to get votes for the park.