Veterans celebrate memorial’s fifth anniversary
By Jeff Harrison
The Midwest City Veterans Memorial wears many hats.
With flags flying high above, the beautiful brick and stone monument honors the brave men and women of the military – past, present and future.
But it is also an important learning tool and a symbol of community spirit.
Next week, the memorial will celebrate its fifth anniversary. The city hosted a dedication ceremony on July 12, 2013.
Hiawatha Bouldin and Bryan Barefield, members of the veterans memorial committee, said the project was possible with support from the community, local businesses and the city.
“We all got together and did this as a community,” Bouldin said. “It wasn’t just a certain group. We all got involved and did it.”
The idea for the memorial grew from a simple request for a flagpole. Andy Cornelius noticed there wasn’t a flag at Joe B. Barnes Regional Park and approached a few neighbors who were retired from the Air Force, including Bouldin.
The group discussed the idea, but believed more needed to be done.
They presented their vision for a memorial to the city leaders and recruited help from community members, civic groups and local businesses. Bouldin said they wanted a memorial that would draw visitors in and believed the east side of the park was a great location.
Several businesses donated money and services to help. Fred Quinn, a Midwest City architect, designed the memorial, and Allen Clark of Clark Construction helped oversee the project.
Midwest City donated land and some materials for the project. The group also received money from the Midwest City Memorial Hospital Authority Grant program and sold brick pavers around the memorial.
It took about three years for the project to become a reality.
“We had a small group of people and we really stayed on it,” said Barefield.
Bouldin said the group raised about $200,000 for the project which includes funds to cover maintenance. Employees at Los Vaqueros have helped with the flowers and bushes around the memorial, and the city mows the grass. Barefield and the Disabled American Veterans replace any worn out flags.
The memorial serves an educational function as well. An oblique sits on each end of the memorial, honoring each branch of the military and the people who helped create the monument.
“We want school groups and people to use this for education,” Bouldin said.
Other members of the Midwest City Veterans Memorial Committee included: Dean Jackson, Col. U.S. Air Force retired, Ken Bartlett, U.S. Navy veteran, Cornelius, Sen. James Howell, Sen. Jack Fry, U.S. Air Force veteran, Quinn, Carlos Figueroa, Lt. Col. U.S. Air Force retired, and Kenneth Miller, U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Figueroa and Miller both passed away.