Amid the destruction of the April 27, 2011 tornado, the North Jefferson Veterans Memorial Park in Fultondale remained unscathed. The monument, originally poised between the Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters and American Legion, avoided the fate of those buildings.
The monument lists the names of veterans in the north Jefferson County area after they pass away. Names are added each year. The city and the veteran’s groups host ceremonies at the monument for Memorial Day, July 4 and Veteran’s Day. The monument on Highway 31 is known for having a military tank alongside it.
The groups chose to relocate their buildings, but continued to have ceremonies and events at the monument. The city maintains the grass and basic care of the area.
After last year’s Veteran’s Day ceremony, which was moved due to weather, the city was made aware of some concerns at the monument. After a look at the monument, the city decided that it needed some work.
“Their vision and heart is to honor their brothers and sisters at arms,” Public Works Supervisor Randy Posey said. “Our job is to honor them by giving that monument some attention.”
At the end of April, the city’s public works employees set to work installing a French drain system around the monument to stop the issues with water pooling and improve drainage. They also removed all of the old irrigation systems and electrical wiring that had been in the area since the monument was dedicated in 1995. The drain is covered by red rock encircling the monument and diverting water around the sides of the monument.
In addition to new wiring, new LED lights were installed to ensure the monument and the flags around it are more visible and properly lit even at night.
The city workers also cleaned up the landscaping and replaced the retaining wall that was once part of the foundation of the original.
It was more than a part of the job to Posey, since his dad was added to the monument last year so he knows how important the monument is to the families and the community.
This was just the first phase of the park’s overhaul, but there is more planned.
At the city’s annual July 4 ceremony, on July 3 at 10 a.m., there was an unveiling of a new metal piece that is being created for the monument. The metal piece, featuring a tattered flag and a scene of a veteran kneeling at a cross with the words “Honor * Duty * Respect * Courage” carved at the bottom.
The metal piece is being created by Souther Glory Metalworks and Martin Machinery.
The VFW is also working to get a helicopter to perch along the hilltop above the monument, to draw even more attention to the monument and the veterans listed.
There are also plans to expand the monument to enable them to continue adding names going forward. New granite slabs will be installed there as needed to ensure all veterans can be honored.
“Veteran issues are very important to us,” Posey said. In addition to his own personal connection to the monument, he said Mayor Jim Lowery is a Vietnam veteran and makes sure the city takes every opportunity to honor veterans.
This story originally ran in the Summer 2019 edition of North Jefferson Magazine.