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Memorial to bring people together creates divide in Green Country

Posted at 10:08 PM, Sep 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 13:17:01-04

COWETA, Okla. — The American Legion Post 226 in Coweta is getting ready for the finishing touches on a veterans memorial to recognize local service members.

Some families of veterans are unhappy with how things are turning out.

The veterans' memorial is a Dedication Wall in Coweta, but it's creating a divide between the American Legion and the veterans' families.

Velma Swarer's husband is a veteran of The Vietnam War, she told us, “you would think the American Legion of all things wouldn’t want to dishonor the veterans like this.”

Mke Walker with the American Legion Post 226 in Coweta said, “It’s hard to make everybody happy."

The memorial is three years in the making, the purpose is to honor Oklahomas who served in the military. The commemoration is on the corner of Main Street in front of City Hall in Coweta.

Walker told us this memorial is definitely one of a kind.

There are plaques planned front-and-center for the "Coweta 8," the eight Coweta citizens killed in Vietnam.

The names of fellow fallen soldiers on plaques flanking the "Coweta 8."

Walker said, “that’s the way the plans were and that’s the way it was designed to commemorate all veterans".

Organizers said the plaques of some soldiers are placed on a walkway.

Penny Bryant's husband is also a veteran of the Vietnam War, she said, “putting them on the ground is looking down on them and walking on them and I never, ever want to do that. I always want to look up and praise my veterans and thank them for the freedom that I have today.”

Swarer told us she is furious she has to look down at the ground and see her husband's dedication where it can be stepped on.

"That’s wrong. They shouldn’t be walked on. They weren’t respected when they came back from Vietnam and now they’re doing this to them," Swarer said.

On the other hand, Walker told us, “The design was never intended to hold all veterans in the wall".

Walker said the memorial is always meant to include names of veterans on the wall and some on brick pavers on the walkway. Organizers said a lot of thought process went in throughout all the Legion members, this was not the decision of any particular individual.

Cecillia Wise said her uncle Claude and other vets on the floor are being forgotten, while the names on the wall grab all the glory.

“All of these people should be on the wall. None of these veterans should be on the ground", Wise says.

Walker tells 2 Works for You, in order to include every veteran on the wall they would need to redesign the memorial. He says it is just not viable in the Legion's budget.

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