Helping Johnson County's Veterans


By Sam Jones
By Benjy Jeffords

JOHNSON COUNTY — Vienna’s honor wall lists those who’ve served our country. The monument is more than 60 years old and falling apart and veterans need help to replace it.

At first, leaders considered repairing the structure. Now, they've decided just to build a new one, and they're halfway to making that a reality.

The VFW's leading the charge to create the new wall. It'll display the names of all Johnson County residents who served in the armed forces, from World War I through today. The plan is in limbo though, until they raise another $25 thousand.

The names of Johnson County's heroes have been etched in stone for decades, those who served in WWII, Vietnam or the Korean War. Now there's an initiative to remember every name, in one place.

Jon Simmons chairs the committee working on the project, and is grateful for the outpouring of support. Those contributions have pushed donations to the halfway point.

“It makes the veterans proud that people recognize us as veterans and that's the way they show their appreciation,” he enthused.

Clarence Claraker is also part of the effort to build a new wall. What started as a project to fix the current tribute, turned into something new altogether.

“I had some bids on it and they all said it's not worth fixing, so we come up with this,” explained Claraker.

The plan now is for 6 slabs of black granite, which could end up in the same location as before, the town square, at the vacant lot next to Vienna's Fire Department, or at the local park.

“We don't know exactly where it's gonna be. Some want it to be here, some want it other locations, but the main thing is it's gonna be a reality. It will be in our city,” Simmons added.

The priority now is fundraising, but there's a lot of other work ahead.

“We've gotta get a lot of names, we've gotta do a lot of digging for names, who served. We're not done, I'll tell ya, that it's gonna be a hard gesture to do all that,” he admitted.

Organizers are hosting a spaghetti dinner on August 8 at the high school. Anyone is welcome to attend from noon until 7 p.m. All of the proceeds will go toward this project.

The community will get a chance to vote on where this new honor wall is located. You can contact the Vienna VFW to donate.

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