When Joe Skrivan, a Navy veteran, decided he wanted a place in his hometown of Bloomfield to honor all veterans who have served, he set his ideas in stone. Literally, in granite.
The black, granite walls — with the names of approximately 1,450 veterans from the Bloomfield district etched in them — have now arrived. The stone walls will encompass the statue that faces them, that of a kneeling soldier.
The idea to honor veterans, the searching for names to include on the walls, the vision for the design — are all credited to Skrivan and a conversation he had with a friend, which set his idea into motion.
“After a city council meeting—I was on the board at the time—I was visiting with a fellow member and mentioned that I thought it was a shame we didn’t have a place in town to honor all veterans.”
His friend pointed out that there was a place in town that listed names of veterans who had died during their service, but Skrivan said, “yes, but you had to have died to be on that list.”
Skirven said he wanted to recognize all veterans (from the Bloomfield district) who had ever served.
So rather than just talk about it, Skrivan opted to act. He began by driving around and around, searching for a viable property.
“It was very important to me that the place be one where people could easily see it and access it. I wanted it to stand out,” Skrivan said.
After extensive searching, there was one property that seemed most desirable; however, it had already had a home on it—one that was owned by a man who had grown up there, and hadn’t been willing to sell it to others who had offered.
“However, when he learned that I would be using the property for a veterans memorial, he was willing to let it go.”
When a local cattle feeder, the Herzog family, donated the money to purchase that property, Skirven’s project was underway. From there, he continued to get the support needed from local individuals and businesses to raise money for the venture. Through various fundraisers and generous donations, Skrivan managed to raise $250,000 over 6 and one-half years to pay for the concrete, the statue of the soldier, the benches, the shelter, and the granite walls.
“It was important to me that I raised the money first. I did not want to start a project and have to piecemeal it together as money came in.”
Over the course of those 6½ years, Skrivan's himself consulted courthouse records, talked to families, and checked newspaper records to gather the names of veterans who have served—so that their names may be etched in stone.
He said the names go back as far as World War I.
“If there are any names missing, it’s not for lack of trying,” Skrivan said. He added that there is still room to add approximately 50 more names.
Weather permitting, he will schedule a dedication ceremony upon its completion. However, he does not plan to do anything on Veterans Day, commenting that the school does a fine job with its program. Plus, the weather isn’t predictable, and it may be too cold of a day.
In the meantime, residents of Bloomfield and passersby can pay tribute by visiting the memorial and honoring those names.