A ‘timeless’ veterans memorial underway in Las Vegas

On Veterans Day, construction of the largest veterans monument in the West will get underway in preparation for its dedication on Memorial Day 2016.

The Las Vegas Veterans Memorial, which will feature 18 life-like statues depicting our nation’s history from the Revolutionary War to today’s Global War on Terrorism, was an idea generated by several local veterans and brought to fruition by internationally acclaimed artist Douwe Blumberg.

Blumberg and Scott Tiano, a U.S. Marine veteran and executive director of the Las Vegas Veterans Memorial Foundation, spoke to American Legion department commanders and adjutants on Monday during Fall Meetings in Indianapolis about the vision for the memorial.

“We wanted to build a multi-generational memorial. We wanted it to really display a common bond to service from one generation to the next,” Tiano said. “We wanted it to be a place of healing and reflection for our veterans. It’s not only a memorial for us as veterans, but it’s also a memorial for all.”

Planning for the memorial began in 2009 when the Las Vegas Veterans Memorial Foundation was established and tasked with creating the $2.2 million project, which is 100 percent privately funded. Applications from more than 200 artists worldwide was narrowed to four finalists who each submitted their vision for the memorial. And Blumberg's design rendering of the memorial, which was "creating a monument that was timeless," was chosen.

“I wanted to show that there is a continuity to the veterans experience from the Revolutionary War to a hundred years from now,” said Blumberg, whose America's Response Monument (The Horse Soldier) is located at the Sept. 11 Memorial in New York City. “Yes, the issues may be different. Yes, the gear looks different. But they are there for their family; they are there for their country; they are there for the guy next to them. I didn’t want to create a monument that was conflict specific or battle specific. I wanted to create something that will stand for generations.

"This is one of the biggest honors of my career. (The foundation) has allowed me to create a piece that I think will really speak to veterans of all generations.”The memorial will sit on more than two acres of land in a park-like setting at the Grant Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas. Each statue will stand almost 8 feet tall and will be surrounded by a granite wall featuring quotes from historical figures about veterans and their military service. Ten of the statues will be formed in a semicircle to face a vignette of three soldiers from the current conflict rescuing an injured comrade. “They (the 10 statues) are watching the formation of the next generation of veterans,” Blumberg said. And a family will also be facing the four soldiers.

“The family is a huge part of the veteran's experience,” Blumberg said. “They are the support; they face challenges with relationships because of deployments; and they are part of the effects brought home after war. There are very, if any, monuments that I’m aware of that tip the hat to that part of the veteran's experience.”

Nine of the 18 statues are currently complete. Blumberg and Tiano brought the doughboy statue and put it on display at National Headquarters for Legionnaires attending Fall Meetings to see. On Wednesday, the National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 11: Commendation of the Las Vegas Veterans Memorial. The resolution states that the "project be commended and promoted through national American Legion media channels, in order to advance public awareness of values upon which the organization was founded nearly a century ago."