Military Service Walk to be built near Chattahoochee RiverWalk

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 3, 2013 

A Military Service Walk will be built behind Columbus State University's Corn Center for the Visual Arts. It will run alongside the Chattahoochee Riverwalk. Plans for the project, which will honor members of the military and their families, were announced Wednesday morning.

The walk, a project of the graduate class of the CSU Servant Leadership Program, will be in the Woodruff Riverfront Park near the Dillingham Bridge.

The groundbreaking is expected to be on Veterans Day and architect Will Barnes said there should be a lot for people to see by summer 2014. He feels the location is perfect for the walk because of all the exciting things happening involving the Chattahoochee River.

"The project will demonstrate the sacrifices made in military communities by displaying correspondence between soldiers and their loved ones, said Stuart Rayfield, director of the Servant Leadership Program. "The Military Service Walk will be a place that will evoke emotion and pride in the service of the Columbus-Fort Benning area through the portrayal of their correspondence in eras of conflict."

Army Captain David Kim, who is enrolled in the Servant Leadership Program, said, "This is a way to honor not just soldiers but the community and the support it gives. It is a way to show appreciation."

Barnes said the walk will be about about 200 feet long in the first phase. He said the project will include 15-20 trees.

The walk will somewhat similar to the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans in Columbus, Indiana which features 25 limestone pillars on which are engraved the names of military personnel who gave their lives along with excerpts from selected correspondence.

Rayfield said it has not been determined yet how many monuments will be in the walk here or how high they will be built.

The cost for Phase 1 should be between $200,000 and $300,000, she said.

Funding for Phase 1 has already been secured coming from several local donors including a large gift of support from the J.W. and Ethel I. Woodruff Foundation.

"We understand and greatly appreciate the sacrifice to those who have served our country in the military and the families who support them. We are pleased to be able to support such a worthy project that will help and honor those brave men and women and their families," said Chris Woodruff, secretary-treasurer of the foundation.

Students from the leadership class, David Kim, Rebecca Holman, Matt Pierson, Ellie Flowers, Rich Cellino, Darren Fite, Vince Demarest and Kate McCray, are coordinating a public drive asking the public to submit letters, journals, telegrams, texts, emails, tweets, chats or Facebook messages. They are looking for any kind of printable communication between soldiers and the people who support them.

The submissions will be reviewed by several groups and the ones selected will be those that best represent the mission of the project.

All submissions will become part of CSU's archives.

Submissions to the project can be made at any branch of Columbus Bank and Trust or via email at militaryservicewalk@columbusbankandtrust.com.

Each submission must be accompanied with a privacy release. Information to be included with the correspondence are the submitter's name and relationship to the communication, submitter's contact information, writer's name, receipt of communication and relationship to sender as well as the form of communication and letter origin.

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