The Operation Freedom Memorial is almost ready.
The sculpture is done and everything has been paid for – except the construction of the memorial, which is expected to cost about $80,000. The memorial design calls for the sculpture to be placed within a 30-foot concrete circle surrounded by three 8-foot black granite walls.
Anita Dixon, president of Operation Freedom Memorial, is hoping the sculpture can be placed somewhere temporarily in Wichita where it will have high visibility and help raise awareness and money for the remaining costs.
The memorial is expected to be installed next year and will honor all Kansans who served in Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It will be placed in the John S. Stevens Veterans Memorial Park at Second and Greenway, between the Vietnam War Memorial and the USS Wichita memorial.
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Dixon said she was inspired to create the memorial after her son, Sgt. Evan Parker, died in Iraq in 2005. After attending a Gold Star convention a year after her son’s death, Dixon said she wanted to honor the most recent Kansans who have served in the military. Gold Star mothers, founded in 1918, is an organization for women who have lost children in wars.
Dixon is hoping someone will step forward with an idea of where the sculpture can safely be displayed in public.
“We want to bring awareness in the community and across the state of Kansas of what we are doing,” Dixon said. “We want people to be able to stop and look at the brochures and make donations. I don’t want it sitting in a garage or storage shed for a year and a half while we raise money to build.
“If I could get $80,000 today, I could start building tomorrow,” she said.
“This is dear to my heart, not just for my son but for all the fallen soldiers,” Dixon said. “We have 86 Kansas fallen soldiers, American heroes, whose names will go on those walls.”