Kearns to honor vets Saturday at new memorial
Displaced by the expansion of 5400 South, a veterans' memorial will be dedicated Saturday as part of an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the memorial's new home in front of Kearns Recreation Center.
The 11 a.m. ceremony will kick off phase two of the Kearns Community Council's three-year effort to establish the Kearns Veterans Memorial Plaza at 5670 S. Cougar Lane (4800 West).
This phase will fill in the landscape around the old memorial's main features a cannon and a flag pole from World War II-era Camp Kearns, plus a monument describing the Army base's legacy with benches, other tributes to the country's military veterans and commemorative bricks purchased by plaza enthusiasts.
"I'm so grateful to everybody, from the littlest people to the companies, that contributed to this," said Kearns Community Council Chairwoman Paula Larsen after the Salt Lake County Council provided the final $20,000 needed to complete the project.
Dave Young is pleased to have the memorial plaza at the Kearns Rec Center, which he manages for the county.
"This is a fabulous community gathering point," he said, especially given its proximity to Kearns High School, Utah Olympic Oval and Oquirrh Park Fitness Center. "It gives Kearns a sense of community, much more than it did before."
The memorial had been located along 5400 South. But when the Utah Department of Transportation announced plans to widen that major east-west thoroughfare, Larsen said Kearns residents were alarmed that "we were going to lose our cannon and that was part of our heritage."
So the community council took the lead in securing the memorial's main pieces and storing them until a suitable replacement site was found.
Private-sector partners helped considerably, she noted.
Intermountain Rigging & HeavyHaul President Mike McKnight removed the memorial pieces from their initial location and stored them in a company warehouse for more than two years. Redwood Memorial Estates rebronzed plaques for free.
The community council even dismantled the cannon and had it fixed up "to keep it as authentic as we could," Larsen said. "We took the wheels off to send them back to Pennsylvania to be redone by a regular wheelwright."
People may still buy bricks, she noted, $50 for a small one, $100 for something bigger.