Harrisonburg’s Own Obelisk

09/29/2009 – Daily News Record

HARRISONBURG – By the end of next month, Harrisonburg will be home to a 19-foot-tall Egyptian-style obelisk.

Standing at the entrance to James Madison University ‘s new Veterans Memorial Park , the obelisk will be part of a memorial to honor fallen soldiers, officials said.

Connected to a 26-by-7-foot granite-covered wall, the obelisk is being assembled by Harrisonburg Construction near South High Street, between Memorial Hall and the new softball stadium.

One side of the wall will display five circular bronze emblems representing each branch of the armed forces. The emblems will be about 2 feet in diameter.

On the other side of the wall will be four plaques listing the names of all 220 soldiers from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County who have died serving their country since World War I. JMU officials spent two years searching the National Archives, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s office and working with local veterans organizations to find all the names.

Park benches and landscaping will circle the entire monument, which will be handicapped-accessible. In all, the memorial cost $200,000 to build and was paid for in equal parts by JMU, Harrisonburg , Rockingham County and the combined local veterans organizations.

Each group gave $50,000 to the project, although the veterans organizations have pledged only $15,000 of their portion so far, and their fundraising efforts are ongoing.

Ragtime Fabrics, other downtown merchants and Eagle Carpet will donate 10 percent of their proceeds from Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 toward the veterans portion of the project.

For more information on that fundraiser, contact Belle Stemper at 434-5663 or Rodney Eagle at 810-9999.

To contribute directly to the monument, contact Nick Langridge at 568-5682.

The original monument at the old stadium was a bronze plaque mounted on a 5-foot-tall brick base. Inscribed on the plaque were the names of 138 fallen veterans from World War II.

That plaque will be mounted on the front side of the obelisk.

In the research process, JMU discovered the names of six additional veterans who died during World War II. Because of this, the entire list, including the new names, will be included on the wall.

The new monument will be dedicated after the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 8.

“We are excited about an additional opportunity to link the community and the university, and I cannot imagine a better project than one in which we jointly honor those who gave their lives in service to their country,” said JMU President Linwood H. Rose, in a statement. “[We] have collaborated to create a memorial that will be a credit to local veterans and their families.”

Contact Heather Bowser :

Reporter News Department hbowser@dnronline.com 540-574-6218