- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The fundraising drive for a National Guard memorial in Frankfort has hit the final stretch.

Joshua Witt, a guardsman who is volunteering his time to help with the memorial, told The State Journal (http://bit.ly/19HU3jh) that another $580,000 is needed to meet the $1.3 million goal.

He is hoping a majority of that can be raised with three benefit concerts being held this year.

The first, on Feb. 8, features Delbert Clinton and Exile. On April 19, the Kentucky Headhunters and Black Stone Cherry are slated to perform. The third concert on Aug. 23 features The Charlie Daniels Band and Sunday Best.


He estimated that $450,000 could be raised if all three shows at the Frankfort Convention Center sell out.

“None of us, as volunteers, are concert promoters,” Witt said, with a laugh. “But what we are is soldiers who really want to see this thing happen - even if you’re not a big fan, you can buy a ticket and know 100 percent of that is going to the memorial.”

Officials aim to break ground on the monument on Memorial Day and dedicate it on Veterans Day.

A 22-foot-wide granite stone will bear the names of Kentucky National Guard soldiers who died in the line of duty. The memorial will also include a bronze statue of Daniel Boone and pavers that will encircle what volunteers call the “sacred space.”

“When we look at those 148 soldiers we’ve lost since 1912 when we became the Kentucky National Guard, not just a militia, we want to make sure they’re recognized,” he said.

Donors include big names such as Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, the Walmart Foundation and the Kentucky Broadcasters Association. They also include smaller efforts, such as those by a Harrodsburg middle school student who sold T-shirts to raise funds for the effort.

Harlan “Ike” Pinkston III, a guardsman who retired as a chief warrant officer four, also donated to the memorial.

“For me, the guard is really special,” Pinkston said. “Giving to the memorial was the real deal for me because several of those people whose names will appear on it were my friends, who I knew personally and served with.

“I’m glad they’re doing something to honor them - and all guard folks.”

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Information from: The State Journal, http://www.state-journal.com