By Brett Cihon
A large brick wall under construction on the waterfront at Marina Park in Port Orchard has been a long time coming.
But area veterans who will soon see their own names carved in brick say the Veterans Wall of Honor is definitely worth the wait.
“We’ve worked about three years for this,” said John B. Weatherill, the Post Commander the Veterans of Foreign Wars post 2669 in Port Orchard. “We’re really excited about it.”
Weatherill, a Vietnam War veteran, will be one of many living area veterans who will soon their name, type of service and rank carved into the wall.
Differing from memorial walls, Weatherill said the Veterans Wall adjacent to the large gazebo and stage will honor all veterans, both living and dead.
“This isn’t a memorial wall,” said Weatherill, a veteran of the Vietnam War. “It’s a veterans wall. It’s for anyone who served.”
The wall will be 28-feet long and about six feet high.
Bricks are available for $30 from the VFW, and serve as a way to recognize and honor veterans from all walks of the armed services; from over seas military deployment to at-home reserves.
When finished, the wall will hold around 1,200 bricks bearing the names of veterans from all over the world, he said.
Veterans, family members and friends have already purchased about 400 bricks, leaving plenty of space for others who want to see the name of a loved one shining out over the Sinclair Inlet.
The wall was designed a little more than three years ago by VFW member Joseph Hovey and his brother.
Hovey recently passed away at the age of 66, Weatherill said, making the wall Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony a tad bittersweet.
“Joseph started the idea almost four years ago,” he said.
After the groundbreaking, as many as 40 VFW members and other individuals came out to help dig, scrub and prepare the initial part of the wall.
Weatherill said construction of the wall will take place in three phases, including building a retaining wall and constructing a foundation before the bricks will be put in place.
Weatherill said a dedication of the completed wall is scheduled for July 4th, coinciding with Port Orchard’s popular summer festival, Fathoms O’ Fun.
“We’re taking our time so it’s done right,” he said.
The wall was originally planned to be built further north near the torpedo across from city hall, The Port of Bremerton Commissioner Larry Stokes said. The Port suggested the wall be constructed in Marina Park instead.
“You put it down there we have more exposure and space for people to sit and enjoy the wall,” he said.
Stokes has been down to Marina Park to look at the progress of the wall, he said. Stokes, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran, was so impressed by the design and thought put into the wall, that he plans to buy a brick for himself and a longtime friend who recently passed away.
“The wall is preserving history,” he said.
The VFW Hall is not the first non-profit group to use Port land for a structure, he said.
The Port Orchard Soroptmists group put a playground on Port property. Stokes hopes more non-profit groups come forward with ideas of improvement, especially as a Marina Park expansion is on the docket for this summer.
“This is helping the expansion of the park,” he said.