WEST POINT -- Fundraising for a West Point Military Memorial is under way, and the committee members hope to have it completed within three years.
A model of the memorial, with the names of those from West Point who have served in the military, is on a float in today's parade. Representing the military in the parade are four floats made by the memorial committee and youth council.
"My brother was the grand marshal three years ago," said Arlene Ross, who along with her husband, Royce Ross, served on the committee.
It was then that Ross realized there should be some type of remembrance for those who served their country. Her brother, Harry Trease, served with the Army and the Army Reserve for 41 years, earning two Bronze Stars, one Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.
It was also then that more interest was sparked within the community.
"I spent all day in the park in uniform, and it started building some interest," Trease said.
In January this year, the committee of 14 was formed, and they began collecting names of those who served in the military. Anyone who makes a donation today will receive a CD with the names and biographies of those who served. And if there are any who served and whose names are not on the monument, the committee wants to know about them.
The float will be at the park with a booth, so people may make donations or gather more information.
The plan is to have walkways into the monument and benches where people may sit and reflect. The monument is about a 60-foot circle with flags representing each branch of the service and the U.S. flag flying overhead. The names of those who served in the military will be engraved on the monument.
"We want to make sure the names are spelled correctly, and if anyone is missing let us know," Ross said. So far about 270 names have been collected.
A replica of a jet hangs in the back of Kevin Higley's truck that will be pulling the float carrying veterans of each war from World War I to the present.
Trease joked about the jet.
"The sequester doesn't slow us down," he said. "West Point will still have a flyover."
Trease and his son made the replica of the Liberty Bell for the float that has Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty on it. The words "Let Freedom Ring" decorate the front of the float.
Brock and Brody Clements are dressed as a Minuteman and a modern-day soldier on another float.
Jared Seffker, wearing modern fatigues, posed for a photo with Logan Kelley, who was dressed as a Minuteman, because Brock and Brody were not at the rehearsal for the parade. Jared will wear his costume in the parade along with several other members of the WP Youth Council, who will also be dressed in uniforms representing each branch of the military.
"This is really cool, because I am in an actual army uniform. It gives me added respect for the uniform, because it is not just a costume," said Jared Seffker.
Kylie Kap said it is pretty awesome to be representing the Statue of Liberty.
Scott Seffker is Uncle Sam on the float.
While standing in uniform Brandon Davidson said, "I actually feel like it is an honor to wear the uniform of someone who has served in the military."
Everton Checketts also feels privileged to wear the uniform of a soldier.
"It is an honor, but it is itchy," he said. "I think of how they protected people during the reign of Hitler and saved the Jews in the concentration camps."
Three former mayors serve on the West Point Military Memorial Committee: Howard Stoddard, John Petroff and Jay Ritchie.
Those who would like to donate for the monument may visit the booth in the park today or call Arlene and Royce Ross at 801-825-1426.