WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Jack Knight, an army veteran from World War II, points at the granite monument in Veterans Memorial Park with a serious look on his face and love in his heart.
The monument and the 1,500 bricks surrounding it, with names of World War II veterans etched into them, made for a proud display for people like Knight.
“This is something. I’ll come back when it’s quieter, and I can see it all and take photographs too,” Knight said.
Wanting some quiet time with the monument is fair. Sunday, a service commemorating the completion of the World War II Memorial at Veterans Memorial park included a gun salute and a flyover.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” veteran Bob Rogers of Wichita said as the planes from LLoyd Stearman Field flew over.
Rogers, Knight and veteran Freddy Simon sat together Sunday afternoon and drank in the monument, the people, and all the “thanks” they were receiving from thankful folks.
The monument project was nicknamed “Operation Kilroy” after the popular sketched character with the long nose, peeping over a ledge with the words “Kilroy was here” next to it. Kilroy surfaced during World War II but veterans with the project do not know his origin. Kilroy is featured on the backside of the granite monument.
Bricks leading up three sides of the pavement feature the names of veterans including several members of Angie and Alanna Garrett’s family.
“I think it’s important for future generations to know how important these men were and to pay respect to them,” Alanna Garrett said.
The Garrett’s and other Wichita families proudly snapped pictures of the bricks.
“When my father joined World War II, he was 17. He told his parents they’d either let him or he was gonna go run away and do it. So it was important to him, it’s important to us that he has a brick,” Angie Garrett said.
The project was the “culmination of a years-long project” according to organizers. A directory that guides visitors to finding the brick they’re looking for was installed last month.
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