In 2013, fueled by the tremendous and overwhelmingly positive response of the community following the dedication of the completed Phase I Kingsport Veterans Memorial, organizers began to take steps to move forward with plans for an expansion of the original project.
So successful, in fact, was the response to the memorial’s Phase I effort that all of the more than 1,700 pavers originally available to the public sold out quickly. An astounding 392 families were placed on a waiting list for purchase of the granite pavers once future expansion of the Kingsport Veterans Memorial was ready to move forward.
Inspired by action from Ernie Rumsby, president of the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council, Kingsport Tomorrow once again stepped forward to help lead the charge by beginning the process of contacting all 382 people on the waiting list for the pavers. “We always thought something would be added after the completion of Phase I of the Kingsport Veterans Memorial,” said Susan LaGuardia, Executive Director of Kingsport Tomorrow and Phase I Kingsport Veterans Memorial Committee Member.
The pavers were once again made of the same red granite as the pavers in the original memorial. In fact, the red granite used for the pavers in Phase II came from granite remaining from the Phase I effort; a reflection of the forward thinking by the original Kingsport Veterans Memorial Committee that future expansion would, indeed, take place.
Added to the 1,728 original pavers installed in Phase I, the 392 new Phase II granite pavers brought the overall total to 2,120. Each paver contains the name of a veteran honored and/or remembered for their time in service to the United States of America.
The pavers were but one piece of the fundraising puzzle for Phase II. Sold at $200 each, the sale of the granite pavers raised $76,400 to be placed towards the total $400,000 cost of Phase II expansion. Funding also came Kingsport Tomorrow, donations from area businesses, City of Kingsport, sales of memorial seats, and funds raised by the bi-annual Liberty Celebration event.
In Phase II of the Kingsport Veterans Memorial expansion, the additional pavers were placed around a 950-square-foot seating plaza, located adjacent to the original memorial plaza. The expansion project also featured the installation of six blue granite seats on the corners of the plaza, replacing an existing 20-foot light pole with two, 16-foot light poles, and the removal of the existing swing set. Phase II efforts also improved site drainage and landscaping around the memorial. Design and construction was once again led by Kingsport Architect Jim Henderson and GoinsRashCain (GRC), Inc., with the granite supplied by Majestic Granite Company (Elberton, GA) and its installation managed by Richard Briggs, who not only was involved with the granite in Phase I, but came out of retirement to assist with Phase II.
Construction began in August 2015 and the expansion project was completed in October allowing the Phase II dedication ceremony to take place on Veterans Day, November 11, 2015 with hundreds present, most of whom were veterans. On this day, Kingsport Tomorrow Treasurer and Vietnam Veteran Sam Jones announced that plans were made for a sentinel statue to be added to the new expanded area at a later date.