Thanks to the efforts and support of the Johns Creek Veterans Association, local residents have a place to go to contemplate and honor the men and women who have served and currently serve in the United States Armed Services. And the opportunity for remembrance is about to expand. Since 2014, Newtown Park has been home to the 4-acre Veterans Memorial Walk. Last year, “The Wall That Heals,” a 250-ft. replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, visited Johns Creek, welcoming more than 8,500 visitors during its five-day stop. Now, the Veterans Memorial Walk has been selected as the permanent home for the wall, which has been retired after having toured the country for more than a decade.
Situated behind Park Place at Newtown School and the Community Garden inside the Park, the Veterans Memorial Walk welcomes guests with a grand brick entrance plaza flanked by eight soaring flagpoles. The plaza, like coming of “The Wall That Heals,” was made possible in large part by a donation from former City Councilwoman Cori Davenport and her husband John. Visitors enter the hardscape path through a decorative metal archway and can meander through the site, which includes 10 black granite monuments, each memorializing a different conflict or special group. At the foot of the monuments, dedicated pavers feature names of those who served. Like the monuments, the sponsored bricks raised funds to construct the Veterans Memorial Walk so that no public money was used to create the space, which sits on City of Johns Creek property.
Beginning with World War I and ending with Afghanistan, seven monuments identify American conflicts. Special monuments recognize those who have been awarded a Purple Heart, as well as POWs and MIAs. One monument is dedicated to Women in Service, funds for which were raised through the efforts of Girl Scout Sabrina Yvellez as her Silver Award project.
In addition to the monuments, where brick surrounds offer a place for repose, granite benches throughout the Walk provide more seating, and a spacious wooden gazebo gives shade during warm afternoons. In the center of the Walk sits a stone encircled fountain.
With the coming of “The Wall That Heals,” visitors will have another way to honor those who served. A smaller-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., the traveling wall bears the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. The Johns Creek bid for the recently retired replica included a full maintenance plan and $80,000. The city’s status as a Purple Heart City and the reception during the Wall’s 2017 visit helped secure the monumental memorial.
The date of arrival for “The Wall That Heals” has not yet been determined. In the meantime, locals can visit the Johns Creek Veterans Memorial Walk any day of the week, and groups can inquire about guided tours through the Veterans Association. Self-guided tours are available with the Johns Creek Memorial Walk app via Android or iOS. Even without the history lesson, the Walk can simply offer a beautiful place to quietly pay homage to U.S. servicemen and women.
The Johns Creek Veterans Association has approximately 130 members and holds meetings at the Park Place Senior Center on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. The meetings are social and include brats, burgers and plenty of stories. Find out more about the Veterans Memorial Walk, the Johns Creek Veterans Association and Newtown Park at JohnsCreekGA.gov.