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Faces of War relocation plan evoking criticism
by James Swift
July 23, 2014 04:59 PM | 6520 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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Vicki Hudson
August 24, 2014
My biggest concern about the Roswell Green (which the Faces of War Memorial brought into sharper focus for me) is the plan to cut down a swath of trees to create the open space proposed. I can empathize with the veterans dismay about their memorial being moved out of the quiet and solemn atmosphere where it now resides. In addition, this is Georgia, a climate where the ability to sit in open space without shade is limited to very select times per year. While I support civic engagement and investment in the future, I don't think cutting down much needed trees in a town with a Tree City designation is what's most needed right now. And if in the process we are causing stress to our veterans than all the more reason for me to consider this decision with caution. There are plenty of areas along Alpharetta Hwy that are empty, already treeless, and within walking distance of Canton St. that could use some revitalizing. When Roswell residents park and go outside for summer events, notice where everyone gravitates: to the shade! I think we can achieve all of the goals: save the Memorial, keep the trees, and make Roswell more walkable. We just have to be creative about making use of developed space. I am anxious to learn more about the Green, but right now I'm feeling very cautious.
BeAnne Creeger
August 06, 2014
I’m a Roswell Resident who lives within walking distance of City Hall and yet I’ve walked through the space where the Memorial sits only a handful of times on my way to public meetings. Other than the one time a year when residents come out to honor the Memorial, very few people take the time to come visit and pay their respects and the Memorial has deteriorated over the years and could use some love. The meaning is not held in the location it sits. The sanctity rests in the memories of those who served … those who sacrificed their lives … those who fought long and hard for freedom and justice. The beauty is in the remembering and the moments we pause to reflect on what freedom means and those brave enough to fight for our truth. The blessings of those who served will not only continue, but will illuminate with the new design of the City Green. Life doesn’t stand still. We are a fabric of moving energy and as we progress and evolve things change … the earth develops … families grow. Most redevelopment doesn’t take in to account the value of our past or monuments to be protected, but the DDA did a beautiful job in taking our veteran’s point of view in to great care and consideration when they designed the City Green. They could have easily thrown together a plan that didn’t encompass the heritage of our great city, but instead they spent many hours speaking to residents, veterans, and council members working to incorporate everyone’s ideas in to one plan that would work for the whole community. This isn’t about disrespecting the Faces of the War Memorial. This is about uniting the past with the future. This is a chance to come together and build an even stronger community. This is a beautiful opportunity to bring more recognition and reverence to a timeless piece that will be revitalized in to something we can all admire and treasure for years to come.
janet russell
July 28, 2014
The bigger question is WHY? This project is not going to move Roswell into the future with greater vitality etc. These are all buzz words just like 'moving the Memorial to a place of greater honor etc. Honor and respect were never an issue for 2 years when it was decided by the DDA (without public input) to move it the Smith Plantation. Now because of pushback we get to hear all the fuzzy , warm marketing words to divert you from the real issues...the city is in competition with Alpharetta and it doesn't need to be in competition with any other city. Don't get civic pride and civic ego confused. Destroying an urban forest and moving a Memorial only tell the rest of the world that Roswell can be bought and sold for 30 pieces of silver. And if you never knew the Faces of War Memorial was there, thank the City of Roswell who never put up a sign, never illuminated it, never maintained it (as promised). The shame lies with the City.This plan began after DPZ visited the city and came up with the 'urban downtown' which works great if you live in Paris, Brussells- where there is no sun most of the year and no trees since the Middle Ages. Roswell is a unique place that people call home.If Roswell wants a new look, then look north on SR9 to Roswell Town Center (aka the Mall) and across the street at Roswell village. These 2 important corners of an important bisect of 2 huge roads are vacant and look like 1970. That is where the work should begin...where it is needed. You don't start in the middle where it is beautiful , you start where it is ugly. But then money and connections talk in this city...big time. A City that won't stand for something, will fall for anything.
Jeff Luce
July 25, 2014
The counterpoint to the tone of the article is that there are many Roswell residents (I've been here 10 years) that are in support of the move/redesign. Somehow the themes of honor, disrespect, reverence, etc. have gotten tied up in this attempt to move the city forward. I think we can make the move to the redevelopment while honoring and respecting the memorial and those it represents.
Michelle Turkington
July 25, 2014
I think moving the monument is a good idea and the new plan to renovate the area is great. The area will be better utilized, increasing visitors to the Vetrans' Monument. Many people do not even realize it exists. I also think it will improve safety in the area. Thanks.
Ryan Gemmill
July 25, 2014
I'm a Roswell resident and an emphatic supporter of City Green. I'm a 3rd generation metro Atlantan and have lived in North Fulton for 30 years. Until the City Green conversation, I did not know the Faces of War Memorial even existed. I'm privileged to count many young vets as friends, and it has never once occurred to me to walk them across Alpharetta Hwy to visit with a dark, forgotten memorial.

It's time we surround it with light. It's time we celebrate it and make it an icon of our community. The DDA's plan would accomplish that by moving it just a few feet. And then we will finally have a respectful environment for the monument that we can share with our guests from the likes of Kennesaw and Fairburn.

Raul Moreno
July 25, 2014
We can celebrate the memorial without moving it. We can also build up the surrounding area without moving the memorial.

How would you feel if someone exhumed the tombstones, caskets & remains of your brothers, sisters, friends & loved ones...all just to move them, a few feet?
John Porter
July 24, 2014
I personally think resetting the monument in conjunction with the beautification of the green...would actually bring more visitors to the memorial and bring more attention to the stories of the brave men and women who've fought to protect our freedoms.

I don't get the slightest impression individuals supporting the beautification of this this area have thoughts of shuttling the monument off to some dark and forgotten space.

Instead, I believe everyone's interests can be served by giving this monument it's own very unique place of honor within the newly created green space.

Imagine all the new visitors to our city who might actually see this for the first it's somewhat hidden away in the woods now.

janets common sense
August 20, 2014
Mr Porter, I guess you missed the original plan which was to move it behind the Slave Quarters on the Smith Plantation- a dark, invisible place. When people found out and pushed back, then suddenly we get 'place of greater honor, more respect etc". 2 years and the only option was the it was going to be 'out of sight -out of mind'. Don't think there was any care or sensitivity in this group think mentality. If the Memorial had been lighted as promised, maintained as promised and given proper signage, and the forest given plenty of seating,lighting and picnic tables this would be a beautiful urban forest for the over 500 new residents who will live within 1/8 of mile from city hall on Norcross St and Forrest St. Remember, they are the ones who won't own cars and won't have access to our wooded parks etc. Short sighted and full hardy in the name of money.

Michael Hadden
July 24, 2014
If you'd like to support the City Green and enhancing/potentially moving the Faces of War Memorial ~40 feet, you can do so here..

Thomas W. Shelton
July 23, 2014
I'm not sure I would call this journalism. You completely overlooked all the support that has been shown in favor of the city green project. We had over 500 signatures supporting the project and numerous residents that took the time to show their support during the open comments in front of mayor and council. For Mrs. Price to make that comment is unsettling to me as she was present at the open communications and many other public meetings where those in attendance supported the project. I'm hopeful the residents of Roswell are informed enough to see that there is another point of view in this matter.
Michael Hadden
July 23, 2014
There is also a great deal of support for the City Green project. An online petition on Change. org has almost signatures, mostly from Roswell residents, in support of the green concept.

The memorial will be enhanced and given more prominence in the new plan.
Raul Moreno
July 23, 2014
If you are opposed to moving the Memorial, please sign here:
Peggy Portwine
July 30, 2014
A Memorial should be in a park setting where people can reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Moving the Faces of War Memorial where 6000 people visit every year on Memorial Day is unacceptable. My son died in 2011 after 2 tours of Iraq and I love visiting the quiet park and reflecting on all my generations of family who have served. Now the city wants it to go to a new spot? Why can they make another Memorial and put it in the Green Project? Take up a collection. Generations of families come and view the park Faces of War Memorial and it is a Public Memorial and should be left alone. Only if you have lost a person or fought with them can you understand how sacred this Memorial is to those who served. Lets not make this a competition but verify its significance and honor its current site that was originally chosen.
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