Great ideas often start with a vision. That’s certainly true of the Tidewater Veterans Memorial, located at 19th Street and Jefferson Avenue across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
The dream belonged to Bill Hallead of the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 20, before his death in 1982. A group of military veterans and community leaders came together to carry Hallead’s dream into reality, creating the Tidewater Veterans Memorial Committee. The dynamic piece of public art you see today, which was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1988, represents the cumulative effort of that group.
Building the memorial was a real challenge at first. There was no design, no land, no financing, and no idea whether the community would support the project. But that all changed over time.
The committee discovered there was significant local interest in a memorial built to honor the Tidewater area, military veterans. A site was dedicated by the City of Virginia Beach, which also appropriated funds for construction costs.
Other financing came from the business sector, community leaders, the military, and Tidewater residents.
The committee did not want something that only focused on the past. It also had to be uplifting and relay a message for the future. Committee members believed it was important to include community youth in the design process and held a contest among local high school students.
Three students shared in the final design concepts upon which the memorial was created: Edward Davis of Bayside High School, Audra F. Powell of Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center, and Martha Ellen Clark of First Colonial High School.
From their winning renderings, three main themes emerged:
- "A World Divided by War," represented by the spherical forms at the focal point of the site.
- "An Effort to Bring All People Together," represented by the water element at the base of the forms.
- "The Service Rendered by The Veterans," symbolized by the wall of flags on the north side of the site.
Integrating these three themes and concepts into a final design was the task of local artists, sculptors, and architects. Another competition was held. From among 25 entries, Joseph A. Miller, a young architect with a local firm called Talbot and Associates, Ltd., won first place.
The memorial’s design symbolizes the way the world is divided by war and what is lost when war takes place. The constantly moving waterfall signifies turmoil but also unification. Several flags adorn the site, representing the United States, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and all five branches of the military, as well as one specially designed to honor Tidewater veterans.
And flying beneath the American flag is one that pays tribute to prisoners of war and missing in action; it will remain in place until all have been accounted for.
From concept to reality, the Tidewater Veterans Memorial is now part of a great legacy of service. It is an everlasting homage to the men and women who have given their all so that freedom and democracy may thrive.
Chariman: Virgil Hart
Meeting Schedule: The Mayor's Veterans Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month (except January and December) at VFW Post 392, 2408 Bowland Pkwy.
- AD1 Warren Bradford, U.S. Navy, retired
- Capt. Thomas Forrest, U.S. Navy, retired
- Stuart Grimes-Myers
- Joann M. Harkins, Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America
- GSEC (SW) Virgil M. Hart, U.S. Navy, retired
- Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Holston, U.S. Navy, retired
- Staff Sgt. Louis E. Hubbard, III, U.S. Army
- Sgt. 1st Class Jason M. Kmet, U.S. Army National Guard
- Lt. Joseph Manacheck, Jr., U.S. Navy, retired
- Cmdr. Edward T. McCarthy, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, retired
- Charles R. Montgomery, Jr., U.S. Army
- Charles E. Payne, U.S. Army
- Maj. Michael Rohlfs, U.S. Marine Corps, retired
- DCCS (SW) Ralph Seutter, U.S. Navy, retired
- AZCM(AW) Gordon C. Waite, U.S. Navy, retired
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