With Eastern Kentucky University's extensive military programs and the operations at the Blue Grass Army Depot, Madison County is home to thousands of veterans.
And to pay tribute to those who laced up to serve and protect their country, the Jesse M. Dykes American Legion Post 12 is building a memorial not only to honor them, but also to celebrate the post's 100-year anniversary.
"If you were in the military, you were prepared to go and do whatever it was you had to do," said David Gannon, the chair of the memorial project. "This is a tribute to them and is for the community to have for veterans in this area."
According to Gannon, the plans to build the memorial began in late March with a goal to be completed by Aug. 17, just two days ahead of the chartering date of Post 12 100 years ago.
To celebrate its centennial, Gannon said, the legion will host an event at the post on Keeneland Drive, and it will include a dedication ceremony to unveil the memorial.
"(The memorial) allows the veterans and the families of the veterans to have a memorial for them or something that is lasting that you can go and see your grandaddy's or your dad's or great-grandfather's bricks here, and it's with all the flags, and it is a place where the veterans gather and, you know, it's tribute. It's tribute to the sacrifice they made, whether they were in a conflict or not."
The structure will be lined with brick pavers with the names of veterans etched on them, and family members or loved ones can purchase those to be built into the structure.
According to Cecil Walker, the commander of the post, they already have around 100 bricks to be placed in the monument.
"A veteran is anyone who has worn the military uniform honorably," he said. "So, doesn't matter how long, it doesn't matter, if they wore the uniform, they can have a brick."
Walker and Gannon said family members of veterans can also purchase what they referred to as "honor bricks."
"If someone is related or were involved somehow with a military member, they can have a brick also."
The duo said that during the anniversary celebration, there will be organizations that assist veterans present, as well as food, music and activities for kids.
"We encourage all veterans that live in Madison County or wherever to come by and take a look at the facility and see if it is something that they would like and if they would want to join," Walker said.
A 4-inch by 8-inch brick costs $100, and an 8-inch by 8-inch brick costs $225. Those interested in purchasing a brick or donating to the American Legion can call 859-661-5021, visit the post at 550 S. Keeneland Drive or email firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also order online through americanlegionpost12.org. The deadline to order a brick is Friday by 4 p.m.
The celebration and dedication will be held at the post from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 17 with the dedication to begin at 5:30 p.m.
"The goal is, wherever these veterans are from, there are so many veterans that have questions about what is out there as far as organizations that they can utilize to help them, and our goal is to have all of them here that day, as many as we can get in this area," Gannon said.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.