Heroes Memorial unveiled in Lighthouse Point

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

It is three years in the making — the Heroes Memorial Shrine now sitting in Frank McDonough Park in Lighthouse Point (LHP). It has benches for each branch of the military and an American flag in the middle with an Eagle flying north on top, and a city and state flag. This site features all the cardinal directions in a “compass rose” and has bricks that were purchased with names of veterans and first responders.

The inspiration for the memorial is to recognize United States Marine Dale Sloan Wilkinson, the only LHP resident ever to have been killed in combat, but it honors all who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve today.

This beautiful site is the brainchild of Ryan Kolb, brought about as his Eagle Scout project for Troop 238. His original sketch was taken and turned into a reality with help from William Gallo, of Gallo Herbert Architects, Chuck McLaughlin, the Exchange Club of Pompano Beach, the City of LHP and others. Even the Archdiocese of Miami was involved since the land it is on belongs to St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and is leased by the city.

I started with the original hand sketches by Ryan. I invited Ryan to come in and participate with my design team. Chuck [McLaughlin] and I tried for 15 years [to get a memorial for vets]. We couldn’t get a location. I started doing a master plan for St. Paul’s,” said Gallo, who, like McLaughlin, has also been a “Keeper” of the City.

He said this location in the park was picked purposely.

He explained, “I used to go to a boot camp here in the morning at 6 a.m. When the sun rises, the whole place glows. We will always have the sun rise on the monument.”

He added, “I came up with the circular idea [for the area]. The different benches give people an opportunity to meditate. This is Frank Lloyd Wright style.”

He also installed seven Italian Cypress trees, which when grown, he said, will “kind of float on air.”

He said the site is not complete yet. They will be acid washing it and putting gunnite (sprayed concrete) on it, a spray that NASA uses, which will seal it for 10 years.

The site was made possible by the purchase of bricks and private donations. The budget was over $100,000. The back of the sign for the park nearby will be modified to thank contributors. Bricks are still available. 8 x 8 bricks are $200 and 4 x 8 bricks are $100. For more information, visit www.LHPHeroesMemorial.com. Money that comes in will also go toward maintenance.

I have a brick honoring my father, who was in Korea and my father-in-law, also in Korea. I have one for my grandfather, who lived in Lighthouse Point from 1963 until he died. He was in World War I and World War II in the Navy.

It’s very impressive site to see at night,” said LHP Mayor Troast, “The light [washes] the area in a soft light. The flag is illuminated at night. It has LED lights, low voltage and as green as possible. They come on at dusk. It is not just a dedication to those who came before us but to everyone who serves us now.”

The timing was right,” said McLaughlin about the site, as he walked around and pointed to bricks, knowing every veteran that was shown, many of whom, like he, served in Vietnam. He served from 1967 to 1968 in the Marine Corps and received a Meritorious Mast for his service during the Tet Offensive.

He pointed to the middle of the circle, saying, “This is the circle of protection… vets living and dead. On the outside are the first responders. The Eagle flies north, a great sign for America. There are five branches of the military [on the benches]. It goes around and ends with the first responders. It’s time to honor our own.”

Kolb was certainly thrilled with the result.

I think it came out amazing. I started it years ago. I met with Mr. Chuck and Mayor Troast. I didn’t know what it was going to look like, but we knew we wanted a monument for the heroes and first responders. It came out amazing. It’s incredible to see how much the project means to so many people,” said Kolb.

Only 32 or 33 badges are required to reach Eagle Scout, said Kolb, an 11th grader at Deerfield Beach High, but he has 36 and is working on four more. He has inspired his younger brother Mason, who is almost 13, to start working early on his Eagle Scout project.

His parents Angela and Chris proudly stood at the special soft opening of the site during Keeper Days activities in the park Saturday, Feb. 10.

We are proud of him. It is quite a learning experience. I am happy to see it finally came to fruition. He will be able to come here, to bring his kids and grandkids. It’s nice that he created something with a lasting impression in the city.”

Kolb said the event included the Pompano High School ROTC presenting colors, the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and a speech by Mayor Troast and more. Many vets, DAV members and other community leaders came out for the occasion. There will be a more formal ceremony probably on Memorial Day.

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