The park, at 17th Street and Quintard Avenue, already holds the memorial to Alabama’s Vietnam veterans killed in action.
A bipartisan effort created the legislation that designated the new memorials in Anniston, with local state Representatives Barbara Boyd, a Democrat, and Republicans Steve Hurst and Randy Wood sponsoring the resolutions which passed in March.
The effort was helped along by people countywide, said Hurst, noting that volunteers did the legwork of creating the resolutions. They approached local leaders to get support for the idea. The Anniston City Council and the Calhoun County Commission both approved the idea before it was introduced to the Legislature.
Hurst said his contribution has been minor and he’s just enjoyed being a part of the effort.
“I’m real proud of what they have done in Anniston with the memorial wall,” Hurst said.
Wood said he heard about the legislation and jumped on board because it was the right thing to do.
“All these people are so underpaid and underappreciated,” Wood said. “We need to show all the support we can for the military personnel as well as our local protective personnel such as policemen and firemen.”
The legislation adds the four memorials to the park but doesn’t fund the project, said Ken Rollins, local veteran activist and a member of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.
But Rollins, who approached Hurst, of Munford, about locating the memorials in Anniston about a year ago, said the funding will come. He believes state firefighter and police organizations will be willing to donate to the project and he knows local money will also have to be raised.
Rollins is not yet sure how much funding will be needed and he hasn’t received all the names that will be included. He estimates, however, the police and firefighter memorials, which will go back 100 years, will need space for at least 400 names each. He’s still waiting for the military veterans’ names, he said.
On the current memorials, each panel has 120 names, Rollins said.
The new memorials will be about the same size and design. They will pick up where the current walls end and line the rest of the paved area and sidewalks, he said.
Rollins, who was instrumental in creating the park, said the project has been a labor of love and makes the sacrifices of the men and women listed on the wall real to people. And really, Rollins said, there’s no difference in the service of military personnel and police and fire personnel. They are all putting their lives on the line to protect our communities, he said.
“An average of 100 Alabamians died in Vietnam every month,” Rollins said. “It was just such a part of our lives that people got immune to it.”
But, he said, pointing to a name on the wall, someone in Alabama had a funeral for this man — and there are 10,000 names on the memorials.
“That’s 10,000 funerals,” Rollins said. “10,000 broken hearts.”
Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.