Community Voices: Veterans groups join forces to rebuild memorial

Several veterans groups in Forsyth County have come together to rebuild the 25-year-old Cumming-Forsyth County Veterans War Memorial in downtown Cumming. Marty Farrell for the AJC
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Several veterans groups in Forsyth County have come together to rebuild the 25-year-old Cumming-Forsyth County Veterans War Memorial in downtown Cumming. Marty Farrell for the AJC

The Cumming-Forsyth County Veterans War Memorial in downtown Cumming is 25 years old and definitely showing its age. The monument to the service of veterans is comprised of six pedestals with bronzed artifacts from the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. Each pedestal is inscribed with the names of local residents who died in that war.

Sadly, not only have weather and time have taken their toll, but underlying drainage and other issues make repairing and updating the existing monument impractical.

So, a group of veterans representing the local Vietnam Veterans of American, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and About Face came together to form The Forsyth County Patriots Alliance with their first goal being to redesign and rebuild the monument and include appropriate recognition for veterans of the war on terror as well as the community’s law enforcement, firefighters and EMT’s — who are often on the front line responding to terrorism today.

Members of the alliance sought and received support from Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt and the City Council for this undertaking which is on city-owned land.

Heading up the project for the Alliance is Gary Ely, who is also president of the Cumming Vietnam Veterans Chapter. “Built with donations and private funds in 1992, the memorial has been the focal point of the community’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day Ceremonies and it’s become clear that the monument’s deteriorating condition and topography make it increasingly difficult to stage ceremonies especially those individuals with physical limitations,” said Ely.

The group is enlisting the assistance of the original artist Gregory Johnson to help design an updated memorial to honor the military service of Cumming and Forsyth County veterans and first responders. While no firm design plans have been drawn thus far, Ely said it will be an expensive undertaking, perhaps as much as $1 million.

The Patriots Alliance has managed a few small donations as seed money and are about to launch a fund-raising campaign seeking donations from corporations and foundations, as well as from community organizations and the citizenry.

According to Ely, he hopes that a new memorial will not only honor those from Cumming and Forsyth County who died in service to our nation, but serve as an educational focal point where the community’s veterans can help students learn about America’s role in the world and the sacrifices those in uniform made to defeat evil and to ensure our nation’s way of life.


The Forsyth County Patriots Alliance is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and all contributions are fully tax deductible. Send donations to PO Box 3088, Cumming, GA 30028