The towering five-pillar Veterans Memorial, dedicated on the highest piece of land in Memorial Park in 1968, will likely undergo a renovation next year.
The nearly 53-year-old structure needs some tender loving care. There are hairline cracks on the pillars, broken cement surrounding the memorial, and lighting at the base of the structure isn’t functional. Seating around the area has black grind marks from skateboards.
Numerous people, including veteran and American Legion Post 5 member Keith LaMee Jr., have taken notice. He recently spoke at a Colorado Springs City Council meeting to bring up the issues.
“I understand that things will show age, but it saddens me to see the disrepair,” LaMee later told The Gazette.
The monument was vandalized with spray paint in August that has since been covered.
LaMee is pleased that the city has a plan in place to renovate the structure.
The city plans to set aside $500,000 from the 2022 budget — federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act — to make the repairs.
The city’s $400 million 2022 budget should be finalized and passed in December, which would allow the project to move forward.
City Council President Tom Strand and his wife, Shannon, were at the park on Memorial Day when she told him the memorial needed “some caring and some love," according to Tom.
He proposed using the federal funding for the project and received support from others including Mayor John Suthers.
As an Air Force veteran who served 30 years beginning at then-Peterson Air Force Base in 1975, Strand understands the importance of the renovation in a community with such a large active-duty and veteran military population.
“I think this is absolutely critical to show the respect and honor to the people who have served in the past,” Strand said. “Not only from Colorado Springs and the state of Colorado but from our whole country.”
Kurt Schroeder, the city’s park operations and development manager, said the process is in the very early stages.
The city has issued a purchase order for a company “to investigate the integrity of the structure,” Schroeder said.
Part of the renovation process will include asking for public feedback about what residents would like to see done.
The monument's five pillars arc upward to where insignia of the then-five major branches of the military sit. Below is a circular plaza and container that houses a public address system. Chimes play from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every quarter hour with the full tune at the top of each hour.
An insignia on the center container reads, “Erected in honor of those who gave their lives that this nation might be free.”
The funding is only for the large Veterans Memorial and not the more than 20 smaller monuments in the immediate area. Maintenance and upkeep of those monuments is the responsibility of the individual organizations that put them up, according to Schroeder.
Many of the smaller monuments have suffered from a lack of maintenance and theft.