Jun. 13—Construction on the Howard County Women's Legacy Memorial has begun after funding to purchase the three bronze statues was raised.
Construction crews began excavating the land on the northeast lawn of the county courthouse this past week. The hope is for the memorial to be completed in time for dedication by the Haynes Apperson Festival on July 4th weekend, but Jerry Paul, president of the Howard County Veterans Memorial Corp. (HCVMC), told the Tribune on Friday that the construction has to go smoothly and on time for the project to meet that self-imposed deadline.
"There's absolutely no room for error," he said.
Last month, the HCVMC and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 28 launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 by June 8 in order to to receive a dollar-to-dollar matching grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to pay for the memorial's three bronze statues.
Paul told the Tribune that $56,000 was raised thanks to ongoing public fundraising efforts, large donations from a handful of businesses during the Strawberry Festival and both county and city governments chipping in another $10,000, collectively.
"We've had some good people step up and have faith in us," Paul said. In all, Paul estimates the project has raised $300,000 over four years.
Each bronze statue will represent a different way women contribute to the country, their families and community.
The one standing tallest will be Rosie the Riveter, the WWII icon — flexing her right bicep, her left hand pulling her sleeve toward her shoulder — who displays the strength and contributions of women in the workforce and in motherhood.
The second statue, complete with the word "honor," is dedicated to women of color and depicts Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell, the first female African American fighter pilot in Air Force history. Kimbrell was born in 1976 in Lafayette.
The third statue, on a platform displaying the word "country," shows a kneeling woman, her hand on her heart and her head bowed. The woman, dressed in contemporary military garb, holds a musket. Her left leg, bent in front of her, displays a prosthetic leg. The statue represents all active and veteran women.
Sculptor Benjamin Victor, who also completed the Blue/Gold Star Family Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park (formerly Darrough Chapel Park), was commissioned again for the statues in the Women's Legacy Memorial.
The memorial will also feature a stone monolith with the image of the state of Indiana and flanked by steel iron rods made by Kokomo High School students. Most of the grunt work for the monument, including the landscaping, bricklaying, electrical and design work, has all been donated by local residents or businesses.
Once complete, the monument will be one of a kind in the the state and country due to the fact that women and their contributions have often been overlooked.
Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich