NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia – A local nonprofit wants to build a new memorial to honor those who fought in Iraq.
Virginia Veterans Memorial, Inc. was founded two years ago and is headquartered in Newport News.
The organization’s initial project focused on raising funds for the Virginia Veterans Iraq Memorial in Huntington Park, near the Virginia War Museum. The proposal is to build it next to the Virginia Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Chris Garcia, a member of the organization and Iraq war veteran himself, said that after the initial withdrawal of troops in 2011, there had not been the same celebrations and parades as veterans of the American wars. previous ones.
He tells News 3 that he believes veterans of recent wars should be honored, despite the criticisms many have of the wars themselves.
“No one was forced to leave, these people freely stepped in and wrote a blank check up to and including their lives for this country and the country has to come forward and say ‘we did it right, we made a living while you were Now it’s our turn to take care of you, ”Garcia said.
Garcia says Virginia Veterans Memorials, Inc. is working closely with the City of Newport News on the project, but must raise funds on its own – $ 5,000 to $ 6,000 by the end of January to complete the phase of design and $ 300,000 to build the monument.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help with fundraising and a 7 p.m. reunion on January 3 at the American Legion Braxton-Perkins Post 25 on Marshall Ave. aims to build support.
“And we would really like all veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to come. We’re going to showcase what we’re doing and try to get more and more people involved because we really, really need veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan involved in the project, ”Garcia told News 3.
At best, Garcia says he hopes the memorial will be dedicated in time for the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.
From there, the organization hopes to build a memorial in Huntington Park for veterans who fought in Afghanistan and an armed forces pavilion.
According to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, in 2018 there were more than 80,000 veterans of the post-9/11 wars in Hampton Roads and nearly 80,000 veterans of the Gulf War.