A committee of the Korean Happy Warriors, a local veterans’ organization, convened in the summer of 2004 for the purpose of erecting a Korean War Memorial. The committee secured the use of a one-acre plot in Dan Daniel Memorial Park and realized the size could accommodate a much larger vision, one of a memorial to local veterans of all wars and teach a history lesson, lest we forget.
Members of the Happy Warriors began soliciting brick sales to underwrite the cost of the memorial’s erection. Enthusiasm was found among local veterans groups, civic clubs, fraternal organizations, and the general public as the committee moved forward with its vision.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Veterans Day 2005 featured Col. F. Harold Kushner as keynote speaker who told of his experiences as a Vietnam prisoner of war. Col. Kushner, born in Hawaii a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor while his father was a U. S. Army dentist there, grew to manhood in Danville.
Construction began early in 2005 with overwhelming support provided by the brisk sale of engraved bricks in the proposed memorial walkway. The services of many local contractors and individuals, including architects, surveyors, engineers, several electrical firms, a concrete company, grading and lawn specialists, and a host of others offered their services free of charge in support of the project. Private donations and grants by the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region and others enabled the Memorial’s completion free of debt.
Dedication Day, November 10, 2007, witnessed more than 2,200 in attendance to view the 158-foot, semi-circular, black granite wall inscribed with the names of 1,649 local veterans who died in all of our Nation’s wars from the American Revolution to Afghanistan. The central focus of the wall is the slogan, emblazoned in gold, “Freedom is not Free.”
The circular brick Memorial Walkway engraved with veterans’ names on individual bricks richly enhances the site. Veterans from anywhere, living or dead, qualify for an engraved brick. The public is encouraged to purchase a brick for any honorably discharged loved one or for any man or woman currently serving in any branch of our armed services.
Today, local veterans can be found daily assisting visitors and painstakingly caring for this beautiful memorial to our Nation’s heroes.