Newport News veterans want to build monument to Virginians who died in Iraq
According to Mark Shockley, everybody dies twice.
“The second death is when you stop talking about that individual, about their legacy,” he said. “And I don't want to be that person who does that. I want to remember everything.”
Shockley is the chair of Virginia Veterans Memorials, a nonprofit trying to build a monument in Newport News’ Huntington Park to Virginians who died while serving in Iraq.
More than 200 Virginians died in Iraq from 1990 to 2011, according to Library of Virginia data. The United States sent troops there for Operation Desert Storm in the early ’90s and declared the Iraq War over in 2011.
Randy Duvall, a local Air Force veteran, said Hampton Roads is an obvious location for the memorial.
“You've got every branch of the service represented in this area,” he said. A wide variety of personnel from those branches deployed to Iraq.
Virginia Veterans Memorials hired 1717 Design Group to plan the structure. The design includes 10 stone slabs standing upright in a curve.
Each slab represents a year the U.S. lost military personnel in Iraq, from the first casualties in Desert Storm in 1991 through the end of the war more than a decade later.
The design cost $11,000, and it will cost approximately $67,000 to build the memorial.
The organization plans to hold fundraisers, and Shockley said they’re hoping to involve Gov. Glenn Youngkin in the effort.
Shockley said he had someone reach out to Governor Glenn Youngkin for support.
Youngkin’s office did not immediately reply to requests for comment on the proposal.
Shockley said someday the group hopes to build monuments for Virginians who died in Afghanistan and other modern U.S. military conflicts.
“There's a lot of vets that we forgot about, and we can't forget,” Shockley said. “A legacy needs to live on forever.”