FUTURE MEMORIAL — Leonhard Caflisch, project architect with Ron Lawrence, Veterans Freedom Square committee chair and Bonnie Tucker, treasurer, observe the area where the memorial will be constructed in Riverside Park, north of the playground. Steve McBride | Staff Photo
FUTURE MEMORIAL — Leonhard Caflisch, project architect with Ron Lawrence, Veterans Freedom Square committee chair and Bonnie Tucker, treasurer, observe the area where the memorial will be constructed in Riverside Park, north of the playground. Steve McBride | Staff Photo

The dream of building a memorial to honor all the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice — their lives — is about to become a reality as the surveying has been completed for the Veterans Freedom Square at Riverside Park in Independence. 

"We are planning on the official groundbreaking in mid or late August," Ron Lawrence, committee chairman said.

The committee is currently working on setting a date and a ceremony that may include some well known individual(s) attending the ceremony. 

"We are getting a lot of support from a lot of people from all over the country," said Leonhard Caflisch, project architect.

The memorial will be located at the Riverside Park, north of the playground area and in between the carousel and the Garden House. 

"The park board has been very good to work with on this project. We are excited and they are excited about this Memorial coming together and its completion," said Lawrence. 

The Veterans Freedom Square Memorial is intended to tell the history of the United States of America. The memorial will include several large granite tablets with each one displaying information that note historic events and conflicts from the Revolutionary War to present day. 

In 2014, the Veteran Freedom Square committee was formed. 

"The committee's concept was to have a memorial that would reflect the freedoms that we have and the cost that was paid by so many men to preserve these freedoms," said Caflisch.

He added that when the Heartland Vietnam Veterans began discussing a site for a memorial that would be located on Oak Street the Veterans Freedom Square committee wanted to have a memorial that would be more than a drive-by memorial. 

"It was Doug Harlin that got this going forward. Once he started, we had a meeting, followed by the word of the project getting out and the support started to flow into the project. So many people have come together and helped support this," said Caflisch. "We wanted something that would encompass all of the wars from the beginning of our country to the present day. We also wanted a memorial that would give honor to the families, wives, children and parents of the men that gave their lives. We feel that they also paid a price for our freedom."

The committee believes that "it is important to tell the complete history of the United States of America." 

By doing so, they will start with a display of the Declaration of Independence, followed with markers that discuss each conflict and have a map showing where it took place. 

"The committee will be enlisting the input and expertise of three individuals who can compile all of the information for the history markers," said Lawrence.

"We are wanting to honor all southeast Kansas veterans. This is as much about the families as it is about the veterans. It's about their history and ours," Bonnie Tucker added.

In the future, the committee envisions the placement of statues of not only soldiers, but also of children, women and families in the memorial. 

"We want to grasp the whole concept of what our freedom is based upon a diverse population and display it to the public," stated Caflisch. 

Tucker added that there will be more than 400 pavers before the groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial.

For more information on how to purchase a paver, visit the Veterans Freedom Square website at www.veteransfreedomsquare.com.