So many wonderful achievements are the result of a total team effort. The Kingsport Veterans Memorial is evidence of that truth as a committee of volunteers from throughout the Kingsport community came together to put dreams into motion and make them reality.
Though it may not be listed as a “committee member,” the City of Kingsport very much was a part of that total team effort.
From the start, City of Kingsport leaders and its residents were overwhelmingly thrilled by the prospects of finally having a suitable, permanent site dedicated to honoring Kingsport’s veterans. The Board of Mayor and Alderman enthusiastically endorsed the project throwing their support behind Kingsport Tomorrow and those who would ultimately lead the effort.
When J. Fred Johnson Park was selected by the Kingsport Veterans Memorial Committee as the proposed future home for the Veterans Memorial, the Board of Mayor and Alderman stepped forward and temporarily donated the land to Kingsport Tomorrow for the purpose of the Kingsport Tomorrow and the Veterans Memorial Committee being able to more freely conduct the maneuvers needed to initiate the design, preparation, and construction that would be necessary for the project. Per the agreement, of course, at the conclusion of the project Kingsport Tomorrow returned the land with the completed Phase I Veterans Memorial back to the City of Kingsport.
The City of Kingsport’s support, however, did not end there.
Battling a nationwide economic downturn that impacted the cost of materials, resources, and labor required to complete the memorial, the Kingsport Veterans Memorial Committee was forced to confront an increase in the overall project expense from the original estimated cost of $700,000 to a grand total of $862,000. Having already raised more than $600,000 through fundraising, this would leave the project more than $200,000 short of meeting the needed funding.
Seeing the project being so very close to completion and realizing that assistance was needed to meet funding, Kingsport’s Board of Mayor and Alderman voted unanimously at their regular business meeting on November 4, 2008 to give Kingsport Tomorrow $248,000 thereby covering the cost of the project. This amazing gesture of good will and support would be made official when the action was officially passed on second reading at the Board of Mayor and Alderman’s regular business meeting on November 18, 2008.
Kingsport’s Board of Mayor and Alderman would once again step up and assist in 2017 as an old building located on the same property right beside the memorial, that used to serve as a Tennessee Highway Patrol post, and the parking around it was upgraded to make more parking and handicap access possible at the Veterans Memorial.
As mentioned, the project was completed during a time when the United States was facing an economic downturn that would officially be noted as “The Great Recession” by 2008. And yet, citizens and businesses within the City of Kingsport stepped up to donate more than $600,000 to the Kingsport Veterans Memorial.
“One lady from Lynn Garden, whose brother and father were veterans, donated 35 cents. That was all she could afford to give and she gave it proudly,” recalled United States Navy Reserve Rear Admiral (retired) and fundraising subcommittee chairman John McKinley,. “I’ll never forget that special, amazing effort. It challenged and inspired us in ways that are hard to explain. Fundraising, and the whole experience serving on the Kingsport Veterans Memorial Committee was so special.”
Thanks to all who contributed in some, way, shape, or form, the Kingsport Veterans Memorial grew from mere concept to reality. A special group of volunteers, the City of Kingsport and its community all came together to make it happen.
Mission accomplished, team!