- The Washington Times - Monday, May 27, 2002

RICHMOND There are 11,631 names etched into the hallowed marble and glass walls of the Virginia War Memorial all Virginians who died in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf war.
"In this Shrine of Memory are inscribed the names of Virginians who gave their lives that liberty might live," the engraved marble reads.
About 100 of those names, however, are barely legible or have been obliterated by the elements in the 46 years since the memorial was dedicated. Unsightly streaks and stains line some marble blocks.
The base of the majestic statue "Memory," as well as her left toes, are filthy, smudged by the eternal Torch of Liberty.
"I am kind of shocked," said Dale D. Chapman, state adjutant for the American Legion, when told of the memorial's condition.
"It needs to be repaired just to make things right," said Carroll Neuner, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6364 in Richmond.
Jon C. Hatfield, executive director of the memorial, said he does not believe the eroded names defile the memory and sacrifice of the combat dead because the memorial is actively pursuing renovation.
The restoration of names is not listed in the "renovation update" in the memorial's latest newsletter, but Mr. Hatfield said in an interview last week that the names and gold stars beside them will be repainted as part of a $400,000 state-funded project set to start in late summer.
"We're making this something every American and Virginian can be proud of," he said. The memorial was authorized and funded by the General Assembly, opening in 1956.
All the worn-out or grime-encrusted names are on the marble wall containing soldiers names from World War II and Korea.
Wise County families seeking the names of their family members on the wall may rue the long trip from the far southwest. About 40 names of Wise veterans are virtually unreadable or heavily worn.
Likewise for 10 vets from Winchester, 15 from Wythe County, and five from York County. Under the "state at large" category, 12 of the 15 names are barely readable. The names of 15 Korean War dead, most from Richmond, Henrico County and Pulaski County, are worn.
Mr. Hatfield said the top priority when he took the job in 1997 as the memorial's first staffer was to repair the continuous Flame of Liberty, which had flickered out. T
he roof of the memorial also was replaced.
The massive glass wall was in danger of collapse because its support system had deteriorated. That also was repaired.
The statue "Memory's" dirty toes are unavoidable, Mr. Hatfield said. The only way to keep them from being smudged by the eternal flame would be to turn off the flame, which burns a few feet away.
If she could only dip them in the reflecting pool that surrounds her but that might not help because last week the pool contained trash, leaves, and other debris.
The pool is cleaned once a week, Mr. Hatfield said. The memorial's walls and the statue, who will get a cleaning herself, are a magnet for wind and moisture because they are perched atop a hill overlooking the James River.
The state's annual budget for the memorial is $192,000, Mr. Hatfield said.
The Department of General Services helps maintain the memorial and its grounds, which feature a manicured lawn and a garden of crimson roses. The monument also receives private donations.
"The state government has stepped forward in recent years and funded the renovations and they have been very supportive, and we have worked as rapidly as a staff of two can," said Mr. Hatfield, a state employee who has one assistant.
The annual Memorial Day ceremony at the monument will be at 10 a.m. this morning and will feature a formation flyover by F-16s from the Virginia Air National Guard.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide