A Hays veteran leading a project to build a memorial to northwest Kansas veterans said the group will begin fundraising soon.
“We’re still putting together our plan to raise money. As a matter of fact, we’ll be meeting next week to do just that,” said Vance Chartier, who leads the Veteran Alliance Project, of the proposed General Hays Veterans Memorial.
“We’re hopeful, and we will be raising money until it’s built. We don’t care how long it takes,” he said.
The Caspar J. Middlekauf American Legion Post 173 — of which Chartier is commander — The Society of 40 Men and 8 Horses Voiture 1543, the Edwin A. Schumacher Marine Corps League and the Hays Veteran Business Coalition have all given support for the project, according to Chartier.
The memorial will consist of five panels representing the five branches of the military set in a star shape on a pentagon-shaped base. Electronic kiosks would provide visitors with information and history.
The original design called for the panels to be made of steel, but those plans have changed to limestone and black granite, echoing both the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and signage used locally by Fort Hays State University, Chartier said.
That has increased the cost from the original $570,000 somewhat, he said.
The Veteran Alliance Project had fist approached the city about placing the memorial in Veterans Park at 13th and Canterbury, but city commissioners expressed doubt because of the size and lack of support from other veterans groups.
The group is now working to place the monument on private land near Interstate 70 and Sternberg Museum of Natural History that was donated, Chartier said.
“The location is actually, when you look at visibility, much better than Veterans Park,” he said.
“It’ll be viewable from the entrance to Sternberg. It’ll be viewable from the interstate, and it’ll be viewable from airplanes going into the airport from the northwest. They’ll be able to look down and actually see the star formation of the memorial once it’s built,” he said.
The memorial will honor military veterans and others from the time Fort Hays was in operation from the region, including Gen. George Sheridan, Gen. George Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody, who served as a military scout, guide and courier.
“This is to honor all veterans, alive or dead,” Chartier said. “It’s also for all of northwest Kansas, not just Hays or Ellis County, because Fort Hays was the gateway to the Western frontier.
“We’re going to go around to the different veterans organizations in northwest Kansas and get as much information as we can from them so that we can honor all those veterans."