A new veterans memorial is going into the Sparks Marina, and the city is inviting everyone to partake in Friday’s celebration of the Veterans Memorial Plaza groundbreaking event.
Starting at 10 a.m., Sparks city councilmembers, state congressmen and government representatives from Henderson and Las Vegas will be there to offer their support of the new plaza. There will be a flag ceremony, Melissa Dahir will sing the National Anthem and the first 300 attendees will receive a commemorative vest.
The new Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza is a statewide remembrance site where at least 834 servicemen and women will be recognized. The idea to build a veterans’ memorial in Sparks occurred when Mayor Ron Smith expressed an interest in building something for Nevada’s military and was then looking at a site near the Southeast Connector linking Sparks Boulevard to Veterans Parkway in Reno. However, when the Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza (NVMP) committee discussed it further, it seemed that the Sparks Marina would be a better location as that area gets more walking traffic and a better opportunity for the community to interact with it.
“This is a place of honor and we want to make sure that their memory gets passed down to future generations,” said NVMP Committee Member and Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir.
The project will cost $2.2 million, and so far, $900,000 has been raised to start the construction.
The project has been divided into three phases; the first being the construction of the plaza, then adding the veterans’ names and bricks; and the third will be adding interactive kiosks and education supplements, money permitting.
Dahir became involved with the Veterans Memorial Plaza when he met Smith, who initiated the project.
“After he had been working on it for a bit, I got to know Ron and I wanted to help. I joined the board and we have a great committee who has done a lot of work to make this happen, like putting on golf tournaments and special events to raise money,” he said.
Dahir added that the biggest hurdle in planning the project was finding the most appropriate location in Sparks to place it.
“We wanted it where the community could be involved with it as they walked by,” he said. “As people walk around the marina, they get to learn everything that has been sacrificed for them. Our freedom is not free and it’s important to honor these folks who fought so hard for our independence and keep their memory alive.”
Names of those who have served in every Nevada battle will be remembered and there will also be room for new names. There are 151 names of Vietnam veterans who will be added to the memorial including some who have served in the Civil War.
After the plaza is built (by Memorial Day 2019) the NVMP committee hopes to make the plaza more interactive and conducive to learning by building kiosks with information and a smartphone app that can help direct people and maybe offer additional videos and collaborating components.
“The hope is that kids will be able to tour around, participate in trivia, get to learn and see and get their hands on what happened,” Dahir said.
“There is a (statewide memorial) in Vegas and one in Carson City with names on it, but I believe that this one is a whole culmination and a way for people to come together and honor those names,” Kristopher says. “This is for the community and we’d love to see everyone come out,” he adds.
For more information about the Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza groundbreaking, to make a donation or buy a brick, visit https://nvmp.info/.