Kent monument will honor American veterans

Kelli Fitzpatrick

A bronze sculpture of three veterans designed by local artist George Danhires will be formally unveiled at the corner of Erie Street and state Route 59 at 2 p.m. Monday. The Veterans Day event will include a raising of the American flag, multiple speakers representing the city and a Kent Roosevelt High School band performance.

“The intention of (the monument) is to show veterans that we appreciate their service,” Danhires said. “This sculpture indicates a value this community has.”

Funds for the monument came from a $20 million TIGER grant gifted to Kent State, the city and PARTA in 2009. PARTA Planning Director Bryan Smith said $120,000 of the grant had to be allocated for public art, all of which was used for this piece.

Danhires, who served in the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963, designed the monument to represent all types of American veterans through three figures.

The sculpture features female, African-American and disabled veterans to “indicate that everyone who served is being appreciated,” Danhires said.

Jim Bowling, superintendent of Kent city engineering, said the death of local Army Spc. Adam Hamilton served as an inspiration point for bringing a veterans memorial downtown. Hamilton was serving in Afghanistan when he was killed in action in May 2011.

“We felt that the art money … would be appropriately used as a memorial to veterans of all branches, of all services, of all wars as part of the project,” Bowling said. “(Hamilton’s death) gave purpose to that art.”

Bowling said he hopes the sculpture will bring Kent a greater appreciation of veterans’ sacrifices.

“Whether they are fallen veterans, current soldiers or missing in action, they all deserve our respect,” Bowling said. “I hope when people walk by this location, they’ll see it, experience it and begin to (understand) the commitments our veterans have made.”

Smith said the sculpture will also reinforce a sense of place in Kent.

“What differentiates Kent from Stow or Streetsboro is public art,” he said. The monument will be “a place where people can pause and reflect about veterans and what they do for our country.”

Contact Kelli Fitzpatrick at [email protected].