The ribbon was cut on the memorial Saturday by members of the Veterans Memorial Walk committee, Hinesville Military Affairs Committee, local officials, veteran and Army officials and others involved in the project.
The memorial honors all military branches, including those missing in action and prisoners of war.
Entry to the walk is marked with the American flag and flags for each branch of service. Service members representing each branch raised their flags and the national colors were raised by Liberty County High School JROTC cadets.
Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 789 raised the POW/MIA flag.
Jeff Ashmen, Veterans Memorial Walk co-chairman, said the color guard teams represent the past, present and future service to armed forces.
“With such a prominent military presence in the city of Hinesville, this Veterans Memorial Walk will serve as a place of pride for local residents and military veterans to visit and pay tribute to those who serve and those currently serving,” Ashmen said.
Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown thanked the leadership at Fort Stewart and local officials.
George Holtzman, VMW board president, has seen Hinesville and the military community grow since he moved to the area in 1975. Hinesville had a population of 7,500 then and was home to the 24th Division, he said.
“Being a veteran and Purple Heart recipient it always gives me great pride to show respect and have a place where veterans and their families could go for a place of reverence,” Holtzman said. “We didn’t get it all done by today, but we wanted to dedicate this particular part.”
Phase I of the memorial was completed after 14 months of construction by the 92nd Engineer Battalion.
Work will continue installing benches, pavers, rails and monuments. Some work was delayed due to Hurricane Irma, Holtzman said, and pavers are expected to be installed within 60 to 90 days.
“This is a living memorial,” Holtzman said “and we still need donations.”
VMW Co-chairman Jim Thomas thanked everyone for their donations and said the biggest contributor has been the community.
“While I was mayor for eight years, whenever I needed to get something done and needed donations, this community always donated and always gave,” Thomas said. “Today I want to thank all of our citizens, all of the families, our city and county for being such a great representative of what is our country.”
Liberty County Commissioner Chairman Donald Lovette believed people will have their “moment” in understanding the significance of the memorial while visiting the site.
Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Jason Wolter said it was fitting to memorialize service members as 8,000 soldiers from Fort Stewart are serving around the world.
“As you think about the history of Hinesville, this community has never failed to deliver for our soldiers and family,” Wolter said.
The ribbon was cut to the sounds of cheers and attendees sang an armed forces medley.