NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a mission to honor the men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country. However, this project needs your help to come to fruition.
The Niagara Fall Veterans Memorial Commission is home to one of the largest granite monuments in the United States and the desire to honor all who serve is great too. Especially for Niagara Falls Council Member Kenny Tompkins.
"I started getting involved in the memorial, I started running the memorial parade and stuff about eight years ago actually," said Tompkins.
But, Tompkins is more than a council member, he's also a dad.
"Right now I have twin daughters," said Tompkins. "Both of them are in the military. So right now this means more to me than it ever has before because ones a Marine and ones in the Army."
Tompkins said being their dad has brought a lot of joy to their family.
"My daughter graduates May 11th," said Tompkins. "They're pining her. My dad's almost 90 years old and he's going to put the emblems on her. He's worried he's going to poke her. His hands are a little, you know."
However, being a father to two daughters in the military can also bring a little bit of worry.
"It's pretty tough that you're always thinking about them and where they're going to be," said Tompkins. "So to be able to give back in this tiny way is huge."
Huge is the perfect word to describe the newest facet of the parade Tompkins and the city of Niagara Falls is calling the "Field of Honor." The monument will be installed in the grass field just in front of the current Veterans Commission. The plan is to have about 800 flags scattered throughout and additional lighting installed so the flags can be seen both day and night.
Tompkins says there are several partnerships in play that will be making this happen including one with the Hands Healing Heros and the Killed in Action Memorial March. He said with help from the Iron Workers Local 9, Fox Fence Company, IBEW Local 237 and the City of Niagara Falls Administration layout and lighting can begin as early as this weekend.
"We're doing 330 of the three by five which honors all the killed in action in New York State and 468 of the smaller flags that is in memory of the 468 people from Niagara Falls that were killed in action that are on a wall monument here," said Tompkins.
The large flags which will be placed in the ground on 8ft poles can be sponsored by the general public for $25,000 a flag and have an "in memoriam" plaque. The city said it's also looking for additional donations since the project is estimated to cost between $12,000 and $15,000.
If you would like to sponsor a flag or give a separate donation there are several ways to do so. The Community Day Board and the Killed In Action Memorial March committee is encouraging donations of $100 or more.
You can reach out to Kristen Wolter, Community Day Board President at 716-804-4915 or Kenny Tompkins, Niagara Falls Council Member at 716-940-7092.
Additional contact information can be found at the KIA Website linked here.
The "Field of Honor" will be up from Memorial Day through the 4th of July.