Park Honors All Veterans with Tablets of Honor in Founding City of Veterans Day
Posted on Nov 12, 2019
Veterans of the United States military from 35 states and two foreign countries are honored on Emporia, Kansas’s Tablets of Honor, 933 S. Commercial St. The Tablets of Honor are part of the All Veterans Memorial Park, which sits alongside the Cottonwood River.
The concept of the Tablets of Honor was introduced to the community on Memorial Day 2015 and the project hasn’t stopped growing since.
“We started out with the proposal to do six tablets and before we could even get them ordered we had all six of them full,” Frank Lowery, of the All Veterans Memorial Park Committee, said. “We ordered four more and by the time we got those six engraved and were setting them, those four were full and we ordered another one. We have 11 out there now and we’re going to add six more. We have enough names to tablet number 12 now and we’re making a big dent in number 13.”
The tablets are engraved with the names of veterans who served in the U.S. Military. Each tablet has 80 names engraved on it with over 800 veterans presently honored. Forty organizations are recognized on bronze plaques above the engraved names.
Emporia is known as the founding city of Veterans Day, which makes the plaques special to people near and far.
“It’s an All Veterans Memorial and veterans can be living or deceased, and they don’t even have to be from Lyon County,” Lowery said.
All Veterans Memorial: A Rich History
In 1957, members of a Beautification Club decided that a better monument was needed to recognize World War II and Korean War veterans, Lowery said. A tank was brought in 1958 and it sat across the street from the current memorial until 1977. It was moved in 1977 to the current site of the All Veterans Memorial and moved again in 2003 to make way for the Purple Heart monument that stands in the center of the park today.
The All Veterans Memorial was expanded and officially dedicated on Memorial Day of 1991. The park consisted of the seven flagpoles and the main flagpole at the Timmerman Memorial. The bronze plaques that are now at the top of the Tablets of Honor originally lined the sidewalks.
“That was the park at that time, and it was pretty awesome then,” Lowery said.
In 1998, a committee was formed to oversee the park and the continued development and expansion.
“At the time I happened to be the president of the Flint Hills Vietnam Veterans Organization and I petitioned for and got the helicopter here,” Lowery said. “We set that and dedicated it in 1999 and then later we did the stonework and placed the granite stone under there, with the nine names of the Lyon County veterans that sacrificed their lives in Vietnam. I have an attachment there. I went to Davenport, Iowa, with the Army Reserve to actually pick it up and bring it back down here.”
The ship’s bell from the USS Emporia was moved from the Emporia Public Library and in 2007, the ship’s anchor was added.
The All Veterans Memorial serves as a memorial for all veterans no matter what branch of service, Lowery said.
“We all served under the same flag and we all had the same purpose of protecting our freedoms and liberties that we experience today,” he said. “The project will never be complete and as long as we still have veterans, we’ll keep doing whatever is necessary to honor them.”
For Lowery, the All Veterans Memorial Park has family significance.
“This is a special place for me,” he said. “I served in the Army from 1969 to 1971. I did a tour in Vietnam and my father is the last one to drive that tank. He drove it from the train depot over to where it sat originally. I was in 2nd grade and he drove past the grade school … and we got to see him go down the street. Then, my oldest son was in the Boy Scout Honor Guard when they dedicated the park in May of 1991.”
A committee of veterans and a Gold Star Mother maintains the operations of the memorial and the City of Emporia does the grounds upkeep.
“We put flags on all the temporary flagpoles 14 to 15 times a year for different national, military-related holidays,” Lowery said. “It’s the volunteers that do that. They come down at 8 o’clock in the morning regardless of the temperature and take the flags down about four o’clock regardless of the temperature. It’s all about respecting and honoring our fellow veterans.”
How to request a name be added to the tablets
Go to http://www.allveteransday.org to download the application. Applications are $125.
“The only thing the person has to be able to do is prove that they served the U.S. Military,” Lowery said. “It doesn’t matter when or where or what branch.”
Take a virtual tour of the Tablets of Honor here.
Photo Credit: Brandy Nance