By David Treffinger
The Vietnam Veterans of America Clay County Chapter 1059, in partnership with private sector organizations and volunteers, will dedicate the Taps Monument during a ceremony at the old Clay County Courthouse in Green Cove Springs on Patriots Day, Sept. 11, at 11 a.m.
The Taps Monument will be dedicated to the 62 Clay County veterans who lost their lives during combat, dating back to the Civil War. The new permanent memorial replaces the old monument at the Clay County Historical Triangle, 915 Walnut Street, Green Cove Springs.
Dignitaries from the federal government, state, county and cities of Green Cove Springs, Orange Park and Keystone Heights, along with other noteworthy organizations and volunteers will participate in the ceremony.
The monument is named for the Civil War-era musical that is sounded at dusk and at funerals.
The four-sided, 5 feet by 5 feet granite monument will have the names of all Clay County Fallen Warriors inscribed. Topping the memorial will be the Taps sculpture, which measures 44 inches tall and a 32-inch base and 23 inches on each side. The high-quality bronze sculpture is finished in a traditional chocolate brown patina was designed by Richard C. Rist, a Navy veteran who owns The Large Art Company of Baltimore, MD.
The sculpture rests on a triangular base representing a folded American flag. The three rifles - a 1903 Springfield that was used in WWI, a M-1 Garand rifle from World War II and a M-16 rifle to represent the modern era -form a pyramid with the barrels down to symbolize the fall.
The stocks of the rifles come together to form the pyramid, which is topped by a "steel pot" combat helmet that was used in WWI until Vietnam. A Civil War-era bugle on the base serves to bring the composition together.
The Taps Monument cost $82,000, and was completely funded by charitable organizations and individuals. Not one governmental dollar was used to fund the memorial.
Surrounding the monument will be a brick area provided by private and corporate donations.
Gary Newman, President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Clay County Chapter 1059 and chairman of the Monument committee, has spearheaded the program which was first proposed 10 years ago by Clay County Commissioner chair Harold Rutledge. The committee held its first meeting in March 2015 and has been raising money ever since. The Clay County Commissioners approved the project in August 2015.
"The committee wanted a monument that would stand out for decades to come,'' Newman said.
"It means those veterans that have been forgotten for so long will be remembered.''
There will be 14 veterans from the Civil War on the monument, three from World War I, 13 from World War II, two from Korea, 18 from Vietnam and 12 from the Global War on Terrorism.
The names will be etched on the granite base, which comes from the same quarry in India as that of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.
The committee will continue to sell 4-inch by 8-inch memorial bricks for $50, which will be utilized for the perpetual maintenance of the monument.
For more information about the bricks, please contact Gary Newman at (904) 269-1857 or firstname.lastname@example.org