Plans for a fallen veterans’ memorial prompted by the May 28 death of U.S. Army Spec. Adam Hamilton of Kent continue to evolve, with city officials now considering the creation of a downtown plaza area featuring flags representing each branch of the military.
City Manager Dave Ruller updated City Council members Wednesday on the progress of evolving plans made by council’s ad-hoc Veterans Memorial Committee. The committee was created in June not long after Hamilton, a 2007 Theodore Roosevelt High School graduate, was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Since summer, memorial ideas have included naming a newly created park or a section of bike trail after Hamilton. Ruller said when the committee last met, there was talk of creating a memorial of some sort at Heritage Park near the dam.
Since then, Ruller and Mayor Jerry Fiala have met with Hamilton’s father, Scott Hamilton, and Ruller has spoken by phone with Hamilton’s mother, Nancy Krestan. Ruller said Hamilton’s parents both favor a memorial honoring all veterans who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
And, Ruller said he agreed with their suggestion that such a memorial be created in a more visible location than Heritage Park.
That led officials to consider the triangular parcel of land that will be bounded by Haymaker-Parkway, Erie Street and the new Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center now under construction on DePeyster Street.
Ruller said officials from PARTA, which is currently building the Kent Central Gateway transit center just across Erie from the hotel, had already designated that triangular parcel as a park-like area featuring some type of art work to tie in with Kent State’s “Art Walk along Sculpture Mile.” The university’s new Esplanade extension will enter the downtown nearby.
Ruller said John Drew, PARTA general manager, is “very interested in continuing conversations” about using the triangular parcel for a veterans’ memorial, and that Scott Hamilton thought the idea was “fantastic.”
Fiala said the memorial concept currently in favor involves a plaza area with flagpoles representing each branch of the military, similar to the brick “courtyard of honor” that is just one aspect of the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial in Sunbury, Ohio. Benches would allow visitors to sit and reflect.
Fiala said the Sunbury courtyard is “more tastefully done” then the Portage County Veterans' Memorial Plaza located in the front lawn of the Portage County Courthouse in Ravenna.
Ruller said he’s looking into funding for the memorial, and that Scott Hamilton said he would help with a fundraising campaign.
“As the mayor noted, the key to all of this seems to be respectfully, tastefully done – something that’s really worthy of the loss that those families have (undergone),” Ruller said.
Community input on the memorial plans is something city officials welcome, particularly from veterans and veteran organizations, Ruller pointed out.