The two strolled into the tiny town and sat down on a bench to eat ice cream cones.
A monument in a small park that honored the town’s past veterans caught the eye of Gillum, a veteran of the Korean War.
“Why can’t we have a similar memorial in Manassas?” he asked Flach.
Flach told the mayor he would personally look into it.
Now a year later, the “Manassas Veterans Memorial” is about to become a reality because of the behind-the-scenes work of Flach and a committee of eight businessmen.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the 10-foot high memorial will be conducted May 24. A dedication program is planned for Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
The location will be on a highly visible site on S. Main Street on a portion of land now occupied by the Manassas Museum. The site will also include flagpoles and benches and will cost about $120,000.
Flach said that about $80,000 has already been raised by in-kind donated services from area businesses and contractors.
“The response to the building of the memorial has been overwhelming,” he said, noting that many area service organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have offered help. “Everyone I’ve talked to has offered to pitch in, both from the city government and the private sector. It’s important that we let the families of the veterans know we haven’t forgotten them.”
He said the monument will be dedicated in “honor and memory of all the veterans who have given their lives in wars in the 20th century.”
It will be a five-sided polished black stone with a bronze eagle on the top. Four of the sides will honor the branches of the military — the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U. S. Navy/Coast Guard. The front of the monument will read, “Manassas Veterans Memorial– Dedicated in Honor and in Memory of Those Who Fought and of Those Who Fell. Freedom is Not Free.” A U.S. Flag will be engraved on it.
A walkway will run from the parking lot at the museum to the memorial site, which will have flower gardens and trees surrounding it. A retaining wall will be built behind it.
“The monument will complement the museum and the museum will complement it,” Flach said.
Gillum said this week, “I’m very pleased to see the monument taking shape. David Flach and his committee have worked hard over the past year.
This is something that has long been overdue in our community and in this time of war it is more appropriate than ever.”
Contributions are being accepted and anyone wanting to donate may send a check to: City of Manassas, Clerk’s Office, 9027 Center St., Manassas, Va., 20110, and indicate the funds are for the memorial.
This memorial is not to be confused with one planned by the 14-member Liberty Memorial Committee who plan a 9-11 memorial on the grounds of the McCoart Administration Center off Prince William Parkway to honor local residents who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.