A campaign to replace and relocate a deteriorated monument to Franklin-area residents who served in World War II and the Korean War has been launched by a group of veterans.
The Commission to Remember Our Heroes, a volunteer organization that previously led efforts to build three other monuments in Franklin's downtown parks, will dismantle the current monument along Liberty Street and build a new one.
"We are simply going to relocate it and the names now on it will be exactly the same on the new one," said George Jolley, a member of the commission. "No new names will be added and no names will be removed."
The brick monument contains a listing of hundreds of Franklin-area residents who served in World War II and Korea. It originally was erected to honor only Franklin residents who served in World War II. There are no records available as to when it was built.
"It's confusing because over the years names have been added of men who came from Cranberry or Utica or some other nearby community. And then, when the Franklin Jaycees reconstructed it in 1964, they put Korean War veterans names in it," said Bob Bowen, a commission member.
The monument, bedeviled now by crumbling mortar and loose bricks, is located in Franklin's Fountain Park. The names of service personnel are inscribed on small plastic tabs inside a glass enclosure.
In February 2017, the commission asked Franklin City Council for its approval to either restore or replace the monument. In approving the project, the city gave possession of the monument to the non-profit commission.
The commission, organized in 2010, has a broad success rate in the restoration or construction of veteran-related monuments. Their work has yielded an expansive Vietnam Veterans Honor Role monument, a memorial to honor Venango County firefighters and law enforcement agents killed in the line of duty and the John Logue Memorial Drinking Fountain.
The monuments, all funded by public donations, are located in Franklin's Bandstand Park.
No additions, no subtractions
The new World War II and Korean War monument will be built near the Vietnam Veterans Honor Roll monument, a granite multi-tablet structure that provides a county-wide listing of Vietnam War veterans.
The new monument will be granite and the names of those persons listed on the existing monument, one initially designed to include only Franklin veterans of World War II, will be etched into the stone.
"We have not researched those names and we are not going to," said Jolley. "We know it is incomplete but we will only reproduce what is there now. Our whole reason for moving it and changing the actual monument is because the one now is just falling apart."
Bowen noted the new Vietnam Veterans monument took years to complete, in part because of extensive research and verification related to having an accurate list of county residents who served.
"We just don't have the time or resources to do that for World War II and Korea," said Bowen. "So the names will stay as is."
While there is no price estimate yet determined for the monument, Bowen said he thinks "we can do it at about $50,000."
Contributions for the new monument may be sent to the Commission to Remember Our Heroes, Franklin City Hall, 430 13th St., Franklin.
The timeline for dedicating a new monument is set for next year.
"We're hoping that we can do it to mark the 75th anniversary - 2020 - of the end of World War II," said Jolley.