Board seeks to add names to Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial in downtown Crestview
CRESTVIEW — On a spring morning in 2003, dignitaries from across Northwest Florida gathered on the lawn of the Okaloosa County Courthouse to dedicate a monument to the county's veterans.
The monument, which had been constructed the previous summer, bore some resemblance to the famous "Wall" erected as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Carved from black onyx, it stood 10 feet tall and stretched 22 feet across.
At the time of the dedication ceremony, presided over by then-Mayor George Whitehurst, the names of about 200 men and women who had died in active- duty service to the country appeared carved into its surface.
Now, as the 20-year anniversary of the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial approaches, the board that oversees its care is looking to add more names to the structure, or at least ensure that all those who are entitled to have their named inscribed upon it have been duly honored.
"I think what we as a board really wanted to do was let the public know that if they know of someone who meets the criteria they should let us know," said Crestview Mayor JB Whitten. "We don't think a lot of people who have someone qualified to be on the wall know what avenue to take to get someone placed on it. They may pass it and say 'I have someone who should be on there' but don't know they have the avenue."
The criteria the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial Board have established is simple:
- The person's name to be engraved on the memorial must have been born in Okaloosa County or attended public or private school in the county.
- The person must have been killed or died while on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.
- Proof of the requirements must be presented by the person or persons desiring the name to be engraved on the memorial.
- Persons who do not fully meet the requirements may be honored through the purchase of an engraved brick or corner stone to be placed near the memorial.
Whitten has taken on the task of serving as liaison between the public and the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial Board. Those seeking to have the name of a loved one or friend placed on the Crestview monument can call his office at 682-1560, ext. 252.