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Faces of War relocation plan evoking criticism
by James Swift
July 23, 2014 04:59 PM | 7117 views | 14 14 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Raul Moreno took his family to see the Faces of War memorial in Roswell for Independence Day. An Army veteran, he served in Afghanistan for eight years.

He took a pebble from the installation as a souvenir. He said he imagines the monument when touching it, referring to the stone as his “little gratitude rock.”

The memorial induces strong emotions for the Fairburn resident.

“They’ve given their lives, so that others can gain,” he said. “If other people could just sit here and try to take a moment to understand that, I think it could change people.”

Recently, Moreno started an online petition to prevent the memorial’s removal.

Conceptual plans for the City Green call for the monument’s relocation. The Roswell Downtown Development Authority, the city’s recommending body for the project, suggests the installation be disassembled and moved closer towards the Archibald Smith Plantation.

Dedicated in the 1990s, the monument has been a permanent installation at Roswell City Hall for almost 20 years.

Several locals are against the memorial’s relocation.

Janet Russell was a flight attendant for military charters during the Vietnam War.

A Roswell resident for more than 40 years, she said the monument represents an “unhealed wound” from half a century ago.

“This monument represents 58,272 men and women of my generation who have sacrificed in a war,” she said. “I don’t think their lives or their deaths can be trivialized by moving it for the sake of redevelopment.”

Charles Robinson was in naval air transport at the tail end of World War II.

“This monument means a lot to me,” the Roswell resident of 15 years said. “I’d hate to see it go … it belongs to the city and the vets and the people right here.”

The 14-foot-tall Vietnam War memorial has been the centerpiece of the annual Roswell Remembers event.

Under the current City Green blueprints, DDA Chair Monica Hagewood said there is not an itinerary of options for monument placement. “We only recommended one location for the relocation,” she said.

Hagewood said the DDA met with members of the original committee that established the Faces of War memorial several times during the conceptual design phase.

“The majority of the committee said that although they would like for the Faces of War Memorial to remain just as it is, if there was a City Green to be developed they would like for the memorial to be a focal point,” she said.

“We discussed several options and they were unanimous in preferring the one we have included in the recommended plan.”

Hagewood said the DDA endorses and supports a list of stipulations addressing the relocation and care of the monument.

“We believe the proposed location will give the memorial the prominence and care it deserves,” she said. “It is both intimate in its setting and a strong focal point to the Green.”

The Roswell City Council approved a measure to send the City Green concept plans to a designer last month. The 2015 budget allocates $578,000 for design expenses.

Councilwoman Betty Price said public comments she has heard about the relocation have been overwhelmingly negative.

“Those for whom military service is important, they pretty much consider that sacred ground,” she said. “They feel really strongly that it shouldn’t be moved.”

She also said she believes state law could prevent the memorial from being dismantled.

O.C.G.A. 50-3-1 prohibits the relocation or removal of any privately-owned military memorial by “any entity acting without authority.”

If relocation is approved, Price said moving the monument was likely to exceed $100,000.

“I have yet to find somebody who really thought moving it was a good idea,” she said.

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