Entrance to the SunRiver St George Veterans Honor Park

WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY     (Washington County, Utah)

SUNRIVER ST. GEORGE VETERANS HONOR PARK

SunRiver, St. George, Utah

LOCATION

Aerial view of the SunRiver Veterans Honor Park     37° 2' 1.83" North Lat.,   113° 37' 16.62" West Long.
    37.0338° North Latitude,   113.6213° West Longitude
    2,536 feet (773 meters) MSL
For a higher resolution image, click here.


HISTORY

SunRiver Veterans Honor Park started in 2010 when former U.S. Marine Gordon Rogers had an idea: a park in SunRiver to honor veterans and active duty military service members. He shared the idea with fellow Marine, Tom Cover.

With Tom's experience and background in finances and helping to raise money for charitable causes he caught the vision. Tom enlisted two other veterans and SunRiver residents, Bill Toole, and Carl Berger to make the vision a reality.

"To build the park," Tom said, "we decided we would need to raise twenty-five thousand dollars by the middle of June 2011. Bill, Carl and I decided we could raise the money by selling honor bricks, much as they did in Washington D.C. at the WWII memorial. We put the word out, and started selling bricks. We raised enough to fund construction and to provide for initial maintenance and upkeep for a time."

"We made people aware of the park and the honor bricks," Tom said. "We have a lot of veterans who live in SunRiver. We put the idea out. Once we got a number of bricks in place, and people saw them, then those who were hesitant wanted to get their bricks at the park to honor their veterans and active duty service members. We now have over 500 bricks."

With the initial funds collected, the neighborhood park nestled against the SunRiver golf course and flanked by Wide River Drive, Diamond River Drive, and Lazy River Drive began its transformation into the Veterans Honor Park.

On September 11, 2011 at 11:00 am, over five hundred residents and friends joined together at the park to officially dedicate the Veterans Honor Park at SunRiver.

The pavilion at the head of the Park contains over 500 honor bricks inscribed with the names of veterans and current service members. To honor the service of each of the veterans, the pavilion flies eight flags from seven flagpoles. On one side, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps flags, flank the central pole flying the U.S. flag and the MIA/POW flag. On the other side, fly the flags of the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines.

Last year at the Veteran's Day services, SunRiver resident Fred Baker said, "The Veterans Honor Park is a great cause. We've got three bricks, one for me, and two for my wife's family."

Tom Cover said, "Because of the wind here, the honor park's flags need to be replaced about every three months." Donations, the sale of honor bricks, and fundraising events have covered the costs to maintain the park. "We honor those veterans who have served," he said, "who are serving, and who will serve."

Tom has served from beginning as chairman of the park, through fundraising, construction, and now for the continuation of the Veterans Honor Park. He continues to fill that role today. When you order Veteran Honor bricks, he is the one who places them in the pavilion. Kenworthy monument in St. George engraves veteran's names on the bricks.

The bricks themselves are special. The Honor Park board wanted them to last for generations. Normal building bricks would fail over time, so they searched for a more resilient memorial. Through research, they found that fired clay bricks would last. The bricks needed had to be ordered from Ohio, and shipped to St. George. "If we were going to do this, I wanted to do it right," Tom said.

"New residents move into SunRiver all the time," Tom said. "They need to know about the Honor Park. They might not be a veteran, but maybe their father, mother, brother, son, daughter, or other relative was. They can buy a brick and honor them." Tom has seven bricks at the park to honor members of his family.

There is still room at the Park for more bricks. Each brick helps to support and maintain the Honor Park and can be engraved with up to three lines of text with eighteen characters on each line. Donors can choose what to have engraved on their bricks. Most bricks have the first line engraved with the veteran's name, the second with the branch of service, and the third with their choice of personal sentiment such as loving father, beloved son, treasured friend.

The bricks are a lasting token of recognition to those who served or are serving. Forms to purchase a brick to honor your veteran are available at the pavilion in the Honor Park. You may also call Tom Cover at 673-5101 to place your order.

On Friday November 11, 2016 at 9:00 am, the park will celebrate its fifth anniversary. The program this year will include the Marine Corps League, the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Daughters of the American Revolution, Vietnam Veterans, and a Corvette Club. Mayor John Pike will sing national anthem, and Tom Cover will Emcee the event. This year the guest speaker will be Wilford Brimley, a former Marine, and an actor with roles in television and movies. You may remember him from The Waltons, Cocoon, The Firm, or one of his over seventy other roles.

This year will also include a low fly over by military jet. Most of the sponsorship tickets for this year's event are already sold, But Tom may have a few left - when you become a sponsor, you may have the opportunity to ride in the back seat of the jet. Last year SR resident Dick Chambers rode on his 80th birthday. The sponsor who will be selected to fly over the Veteran's Day service this year will be selected on Wednesday November 9, at 2:00 inside Hank's Riverwalk Grill.

Events:
11/11/2011 SunRiver Veteran's Honor Park Dedicated
5/23/2014     4th Annual SunRiver Veterans Honor Park Show & Dance
11/11/2015 Annual Veteran's Day Program
11/11/2016 Annual Veteran's Day Program
5/30/2017 2017 Memorial Day Service
11/7/2017 Annual Veteran's Day Program


PHOTOS

Entrance to the SunRiver St George Veterans Honor Park
WCHS-03712   Photo of the main entrance to the SunRiver St. George Veterans Honor Park

WCHS photos:
WCHS-03713   Photo of the name and dedication plaque at the SunRiver St. George Veterans Honor Park
WCHS-03714   Photo of the credits plaque at the SunRiver St. George Veterans Honor Park
WCHS-03715   Photo of the main part of the SunRiver St. George Veterans Honor Park
WCHS-03716   Photo of the SunRiver St. George Veterans Honor Park


REFERENCES

Veterans Honor Park to be dedicated on Veterans Day
by Mori Kessler
St. George News, November 10, 2011

Honoring Our Veterans at SunRiver St. George
SunRiver St. George, October 31, 2016