Great ideas usually start with a concept. Such was the case with the Tidewater Veterans Memorial, located at 19th Street and Jefferson Ave. across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The dream belonged to Bill Hallead of the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 20, before his death in 1982. To carry his idea forward, a group of military veterans and community leaders came together to create the Tidewater Veterans Memorial Committee. This memorial which you see today represents the cumulative effort of that group.
The task was a real challenge. At the beginning, there was no design, no land, no financing, and no idea of community support for the project.
All of this changed in time. It was discovered that a high degree of local interest existed to create and build a memorial dedicated to all military veterans from the Tidewater area. The challenge was converted into action. A site was dedicated by the City of Virginia Beach along with an appropriation for construction costs. Other financing came from the business sector, community leaders, the military, and citizens throughout the Tidewater area.
The magnificent memorial you view today was created in a very unusual and special way. It started with a contest among local high school students. The memorial committee was of the opinion that the youth of the community must be brought into the creative design and concept phase of the project. After all, military veterans fought for the future of our country so that younger generations might enjoy the blessings of freedom and the American dream as they knew it.
Three students shared in the final design concepts upon which the memorial was created -- Edward Davis of Bayside High School, Audra F. Powell of VoTech, and Martha Ellen Clark of First Colonial High School. From their winning renderings three main themes emerged: "A World Divided By War," represented by the spherical forms at the focal point of the site, "An Effort To Bring All People Together," represented by the water element at the base of the forms, and finally, "The Service Rendered By The Veterans," symbolized by the wall of flags on the north side of the site.
Integrating these three themes and concepts into a final design for the memorial was the task of local artists, sculptures and architects. Another competition was held. From among twenty-five entries, a young architect, Joseph A. Miller, of Talbot and Associates, Ltd., a local firm, won first place with the design you view today.
The manner in which the forms are split emphasizes the effect and makes the whole form more dynamic. This feature reflects the unique way and manner in which the world is divided by war. The cut-out void in the spherical shapes symbolizes the part of the world that is lost when war takes place. The constantly moving waterfall also symbolizes the turmoil of war, yet represents the unifying factor to bring people together -- a message from the past together with a message for the future.
The flags located to the North of the center structure are of the United States, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the five military services, and a specially designed Tidewater Veterans Flag. Flying beneath the United States flag and in special recognition of recent conflicts and our commitment to those who have not yet returned is the POW-MIA flag. This flag will remain in place until each of our Missing in Action and Prisoners of War are accounted for.
The committee did not want something that just focused on the past. It had to be something that lifted the spirits and would speak to everyone who viewed it. It had to have a message for the future.
From concept to reality, the memorial is now a part of the great legacy of service rendered by the military of this area. It was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1988. It honors the service and sacrifice of all Tidewater veterans from the American Revolutionary War to the War in Iraq.
Tidewater is proud of its veterans and with this memorial pays everlasting homage to these solders who have given their all, sacrificing everything, so that freedom and democracy would thrive forever.
We Salute Them!
Any person who has ever served in any branch of the US Armed Services is eligible to have a paving stone inscribed with his or her name placed in the new Veterans Memorial Park. Groups and organizations wishing to dedicate a memorial in honor of military personnel to be placed in the park are encouraged to do so. The park is located behind the Tidewater Veterans Memorial, across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center on 19th Street.
For more information regarding the Mayor's Veterans Committee or commemorative bricks, please contact Charlie Montgomery at 481-6513.
Members of the Mayor's Veterans Committee:
Charles R. Montgomery Jr., USA
2258 Bayberry Street
Va Beach, VA 23451-1404
Phone: (757) 481-6513
M. Gilbert, USA (Ret.)
Harkins, Vietnam Veterans of America
Virgil Hart, USN (Ret.)
Hubbard, III, USA
R. Hunter, USN (Ret.)
M. Kmet, USANG
T. McCarthy, USCGR (Ret.)
Montgomery, Jr., USA
Morrison, City Manager's Office
D. Trowbridge, USMC (Ret.)
Gordon C. Waite, USN (Ret.)
Staff Liaison: Barbara A. Morrison