Courthouse needs a war memorial
How did it come to pass that Mesa County doesn’t have a war memorial on the grounds of the courthouse?
It’s a curious departure from the patriotic spirit that pervades this valley. How many towns in Colorado can boast of having both a Veterans Affairs hospital and a Veterans Memorial Cemetery? Short of military towns, few places are sown with more opportunity to cultivate an appreciation for military service than Grand Junction; yet we lack a monument to hometown heroes so ubiquitous in county seats across the country.
Lack of a courthouse war memorial hasn’t stopped this community from properly honoring the memory of the men and women who served the cause of freedom. To suggest otherwise would be an insult to members of local groups who decorate graves and organize ceremonies to remind us that freedom isn’t free.
But a common refrain on Memorial Day is that the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty delivered a debt that cannot be repaid, but must be remembered — not only on Memorial Day, but every day. A monument on the courthouse lawn, in the heart of downtown, would provide a reminder.
Rick Wagner, a local attorney and a Sentinel columnist, plans to approach county commissioners with a request that they dedicate a small piece of ground for a monument. He likes the northwest corner of the front lawn.
Wagner understands that such an undertaking is rife with complications. While he’s confident that he could get local construction firms to donate labor and provide materials at cost, he’s just as confident that the county will require legal assurances that there’s a nonprofit entity standing behind the project to provide for future upkeep, repairs or augmentations.
Beyond that, there’s the challenge of satisfying veterans groups, representing various branches of the military, with a single monument honoring service during wartime.
Compiling individual names to be etched in stone would be a huge challenge, requiring research, documentation and qualifying criteria — not to mention a lot of stone. Wagner wants the monument to be simple and inclusive. It would be dedicated to Mesa County servicemen and women who served their country in a time of war without listing names.
“It would provide a focal point — a central location that lends itself to formality by local officials,” Wagner said. “For example it would create the opportunity on Veterans Day or Memorial Day for whoever is the chair of the county commission to lay a wreath.”
Wagner said he’s happy to coordinate the effort and get people on board with the idea, but he doesn’t want to come off as officious. It’s just a seed of an idea, for now, with plenty of time for input from those who agree that the courthouse needs a war memorial.
Count us among those who think no gesture is too great or small when it comes to honoring those who served.