'Rock of Honor Memorial' in Meridian is unveiled

'Rock of Honor Memorial' in Meridian is unveiled

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by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 14, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 14 at 5:24 PM

MERIDIAN -- There is now a new special memorial standing in Meridian to honor fallen veterans.  It is called the Rock of Honor.  It was officially unveiled on Veterans Day at the new Julius M. Kleiner Park.

The man who came up with the idea, when he moved to Meridian and did not see any monuments around the city.

"I moved here from the east coast," explained WWII veteran John Burns.  "I wandered around town and I didn't see any monuments here.  In Meridian, not one monument to our veterans."

He wrote about that observation in his weekly column in the Valley Times, and Mayor Tammy DeWeerd heard about it.  That is when Burns got a call from the city.

"They said, 'Pick out a piece of property that you want to put your monument on,' and that's how it got started," said Burns.  "From a little idea, it just grew and grew."

It grew into what is now known as the Rock of Honor Memorial at Julius M. Kleiner Park.  A joint project of the American legion, the VFW, the City of Meridian and the Kleiner Park Trust.  The memorial lists all the names of Meridian military members who have died in war.

Boy Scout John Skogsberg, who is 13 years old, was responsible for gathering those names.  It was his Eagle Scout project.

"It took a lot, it took 297 and a half hours of work," said Skogsberg.  "We had to go through and verify all the names we found."

Skogsberg managed to find 61 names.

"He organized his boy scout troops, and they did a wonderful job for us," said Burns.  "They really did the biggest job, the hardest job and that was finding the names."

The names on the memorial will be remembered forever.  One of those names, Michael Norris.

Michael served in Iraq, he was severely hurt in an IED attack, and died after he came home to Idaho.  His father, Tom Norris is the treasurer for the Rock of Honor project.

"I'm going to have my boy here with me.  He is going to be close to my heart now," said Tom Norris.  "It's kind of ironic really, because we started this project before my son died and I had no idea he's be on that wall."

The dedication of the memorial on Veterans Day was emotional for him.

"Another place for remembrance, I can come out here at anytime and I can talk to him," said Norris.

For John Burns, seeing his idea come to life so quickly is a dream come true.  He made sure all the branches of the military are included.

"The Army, the Marines, the Navy, the AF, the Coast Guard," Burns read from the writing on the memorial.

The quote on the memorial comes from Burns too, "The quotation came to me, just came to me.  'We celebrate their valor, we shall not forget them, their sacrifice is the foundation on which we build our strength'."
 
Memorial organizers are still looking for names of the fallen to add to the monument.  The Rock of Honor Fund is also accepting donations from the public to help pay for the memorial.

If you would like to help, visit the official Rock of Honor Memorial website.

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