EAST HELENA – East Helena’s new military veterans’ memorial took a big step towards completion this week.
On Monday, crews from Memorial Monuments began placing the granite slabs with the names of 1,464 area veterans etched on the sides in East Helena’s Main Street Park.
Late last year, East Helena leaders began soliciting names of anyone who lived in the East Helena area, served in the military, and received an honorable, general, or medical discharge.
The new service members monument replaces the former memorial, which had not been well-kept and showed signs of decay. The new monument also includes hundreds more veterans’ names than the previous memorial.
“We had deteriorated panels. It just wasn’t very befitting of the sacrifices that our veterans have made for this community and their families that they have made too,” Kit Johnson, City Council member and chair for the memorial project, said.
Johnson said the project has been years in the making and he was happy to see the hard work pay off.
“It was long past due to be done,” Tom Johnson, Post Commander for VFW Post 10010 in East Helena, said.
The VFW in East Helena provided most of the funding for the project, which also received support and donations from several local businesses. Johnson said some families were moved to tears when they learned their loved ones would be memorialized.
The monument is expected to be finished this summer. The progress will be on display during East Helena’s annual Memorial Day parade Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m.
East Helena Mayor Jamie Schell said the goal is to have new flag poles installed at the monument ahead of Memorial Day.
The project is a collaboration between the City of East Helena, Anderson Stevenson & Wilke Funeral Home, and the East Helena VFW and others.
-Reported by Jacob Fuhrer/MTN News