With nearly half of their $100,000 goal reached, Mark Davis, Aldridge Gardens and the Veterans Committee are preparing to break ground on a veterans project Nov. 9.
The first shovel will hit the dirt on Aldridge Gardens’ veterans memorial arbor this month. When it does, Mark Davis will be among those thinking of loved ones who served — and some who never came home.
Davis is on the Aldridge board of directors and a member of the Hoover Veterans Committee. He has also been spearheading a fundraising campaign to build the veterans memorial arbor on the gardens’ earthen dam. With roughly half of their $100,000 goal reached, Davis, Aldridge and the Veterans Committee are preparing to break ground on the project Nov. 9.
“Everywhere we go, everybody just loves the idea,” Davis said. “As soon as people hear about it, they want to get on board, and they want to buy one.”
The arbor will be made of metal columns and trusses with stainless steel cables, created in a design reminiscent of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It will support muscadine vines that Davis said will help the local bee population. There will also be benches on which to sit and view the lake and flags from each military branch, including a U.S. flag that flew in Iraq during the War on Terror.
Davis said the committee is also considering creating a plaza at the entrance to the arbor, as well as a slate wall and chalk for people to write memories or thoughts of military loved ones.
“When we get the arbor covered, it’s going to be beautiful,” Davis said. “Just a beautiful, very serene place.”
“Over a period of time, it will be kind of a green tunnel,” agreed Capt. Robert Beaty, chairman of the Veterans Committee. He said the arbor is the “right thing to do” for the veterans of Hoover and Alabama, and he is proud that the city supports remembering its service members.
The Veterans Committee wants to fund the whole project through donations. So far, people have donated money for 14 of the 16 columns, two of the eight benches and some of the flags in memory of service members. If they achieve that goal, the arbor will be constructed by Veterans Day 2016.
Once it opens, Davis expects the arbor to be a venue for weddings, events, peaceful reflection or simply seeing the sun rise over the lake.
“It’s a bright star for Hoover, in my opinion, to show that Hoover recognizes its veterans,” Davis said.
The groundbreaking will be Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. at Aldridge Gardens. The mayor, city council and Veterans Committee will be among those in attendance, as well as donors.
The ceremony for the arbor is just one of many events Hoover will have in November as part of Thank a Vet Week. These include the Veterans Committee’s annual reception on Nov. 1, with a concert by the Alabama Youth Symphony, and flag-folding ceremonies by the Hoover Fire Department from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5.
“This is a great time to honor and celebrate the men and women that have served our country,” Mayor Gary Ivey said.
Davis said the Friends of the Hoover Library will sponsor a movie and other programs about veterans and military service, including the American Village in Montevallo. Volunteers in Thank a Vet Week will be recognized by the City Council on Nov. 16.
The Hyatt Regency Birmingham -- The Wynfrey Hotel is also participating by displaying a Remembering the Fallen exhibit in its gallery for hotel guests and visitors of the Riverchase Galleria. Remembering the Fallen is a national series of exhibits honoring military members who lost their lives in combat. Davis said this will be the first time the exhibit has come to Birmingham.
“While the loss of life serving our country is a somber topic, we believe this exhibit provides an excellent opportunity to remember those who lost their lives defending the freedoms we live with every day,” said Paul Dangel, the director of sales and marketing at the Hyatt Regency.
Remembering the Fallen will be on display Nov. 1-8, and it will include pictures and stories of Alabama servicemen and women who have died on duty since 9/11, including two former Hoover residents. Davis said the Hyatt Regency will distribute flyers to its guests and mall stores explaining the exhibit and encouraging them to visit. He thinks the gallery location will bring in a lot of visitors.
“What better place?” Davis said.
Beaty will be the master of ceremonies at the reception and said he will be at every flag-folding ceremony and as many of the other events as he can. Having retired from a career as a naval aviator, and with two of his four sons currently on active duty, Beaty feels the personal importance of recognizing Veterans Day.
“If we don’t keep what they’ve done for us and for the country in the forefront, people will forget,” Beaty said.
Veterans Day events
- Nov. 1, 2 p.m.: Veterans Reception at Hoover Public Library. Featuring a concert by the Alabama Youth Symphony and a flag-folding ceremony at the library flagpole with the Navy color guard.
- Nov. 1-8: Remembering the Fallen exhibit at Hyatt Regency Birmingham -- The Wynfrey Hotel, 1000 Riverchase Galleria.
- Nov. 2-5, 4:45 p.m.: Flag-folding ceremonies at the library flagpole. Local Girl, Boy and Cub Scout troops will participate each day.
- Nov. 2, 10 a.m.: Friends of the Hoover Library present: The American Village. Reception at 9:45 in the theater level meeting rooms.
- Nov. 2, 2 and 6:30 p.m.: Monday at the Movies: U-571. The Library Theatre.
- Nov. 3, 10:30 a.m.: Veterans Re-entering the Workforce. Presentation by the Construction Education Foundation of Alabama (CEFA) in the adult programming room.
- Nov. 6, 1 p.m.: U.S.O. Concert at Hoover Senior Center.
- Nov. 9, 10 a.m.: Veterans Memorial Arbor groundbreaking at Aldridge Gardens.
- Nov. 11: Veterans Day
- Nov. 16, 6 p.m.: City Council honoring Veterans Week volunteers. City Hall.