Williamsburg Veterans Propose Park Renaming, Garden for Servicemen

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Mid County Park recognizes servicemen with a Vietnam Veteran Memorial statue, which was donated by resident David Hooker in 1993. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
Mid County Park recognizes servicemen with a Vietnam Veteran Memorial statue, which was donated by resident David Hooker in 1993. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)

Americans remember fallen servicemen on Memorial Day and honor those still living on Veterans Day, but in between, American Legion Post 39 Commander Bill White says there “is basically nothing.”

That is something Historic Triangle veterans hope to change by renaming a James City County park for veterans or establishing a memorial garden.

“We need it,” White said. “We need it so everyday we can go somewhere in peace and quiet and remember or honor.”

William Truax, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 957, submitted a proposal Feb. 22 to James City County officials to “start the conversation” on the merits of renaming a park and creating a memorial park or garden.

The proposal was submitted on behalf of American Legion Posts 39 and 1776, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8046 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 957.

This is not the first proposal Truax has drafted pertaining to veterans; he wrote a letter to James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg seeking support for “The Wall That Heals,” a traveling memorial that was displayed in October 2014 in Colonial Williamsburg.

“Being a veteran and being in the community, I want to do as much for them as I can,” Truax said. “It seems to me James City County is a veteran community and the park would have been something I thought the county would pursue.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 8,883 individuals with veteran status lived in James City County in 2014. For a total population of 54,393 civilians 18 years or older, veterans comprised 16.3 percent of residents.

Truax suggested Mid County Park as one that could be renamed or include a memorial garden. Mid County Park currently recognizes servicemen with a Vietnam Veteran Memorial statue, which was donated by resident David Hooker in 1993.

Truax said the park has enough space to establish a garden and the sounds of children playing in Kidsburg could positively contribute to the atmosphere.

“Maybe that’s part of the process. You’re in the area and reflecting and hearing children in the background. It comes full circle,” Truax said.

The veterans organizations recommended planting trees in a garden as “living memorials” to fallen servicemen, similar to those at Arlington National Cemetery.

John Jack Worley, commander the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8046, said local veterans enjoyed The Wall That Heals but many did not know of the Vietnam Veterans memorial already in Mid County Park.

He said members of the VFW would be willing to care for the prospective garden by removing trash, a service they already provide as highway maintenance volunteers.

“As post commander, I’m all over that. I’d love to see it,” Worley said. “Not just for Vietnam veterans, but for veterans period.”

John Carnifax, director of the JCC Department of Parks and Recreation, said the Board of Supervisors has the authority to change the name of a park and either a board member or the county administrator can put it on the agenda for consideration.

After reading the proposal, Carnifax said he would like more details on the proposed garden.

“I want to make sure we stay consistent with the existing master plan and leave plenty of space, but in general I don’t have any concern with moving forward with [the proposal],” Carnifax said.

In the proposal, Truax wrote the veterans organizations hope an announcement for renaming a park or establishing a garden could be made by Memorial Day or Veterans Day this year.