After J. William Felton III of Knoxville, Tenn., visited the Normandy beaches in northern France in 1999, he returned forever changed and with a single-minded mission: to establish a memorial in his hometown honoring fallen soldiers. To realize Felton’s dream, the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association was formed. The city of Knoxville donated an 8,000-square-foot greenspace in World’s Fair Park for the memorial’s location, and Brewer Ingram Fuller Architects of Knoxville was brought in for the memorial’s design.
“In addition to creating a public tribute, we also wanted the Memorial to have a private feel,” said Lee Ingram, AIA, LEED AP, of Brewer Ingram Fuller Architects. The final version evokes both an outdoor chapel with its aisles and pews, and a military cemetery where you look out and see the white markers against the green hills.
“Granite was a natural choice for the memorial, particularly because of its permanence,” said Ingram. “Granite accommodated the size and depth of the name engravings as well as the environmental considerations for our area.”
Coldspring’s Sierra White® was chosen for the 26 granite steles. In all, 6,126 veterans’ names were inscribed on these 9-foot-tall feature pieces. The steles feature two finishes. A Rub & Sand finish is used on the upper portion, with the names engraved in a polished finish on the lower portion, allowing visitors to create rubbings of their loved ones’ names. Names are sorted by conflict and then by county within each conflict. Benches, also fabricated out of Sierra White® granite in a Rub & Sand finish, are located opposite of each pylon, offering a place for thoughtful reflection. The paving consists of Cold Spring Black, Academy Black® and Radiant Red® granite in a Diamond® 10 finish.The memorial also includes a 50-foot flagpole with a base of Radiant Red® granite in a Diamond® 10 finish and a 27-foot-high bell tower, with a facing and cap in Sierra White®, Rub & Sand finish. The bell tower is inscribed with the four essential freedoms President Franklin D. Roosevelt mentioned in a speech to Congress on Jan. 6, 1941: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.