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New veterans, first responders wall coming to downtown Twin Falls

Times-News - 12/14/2020

Dec. 13--TWIN FALLS -- The city hopes to have a new veterans and first responders memorial installed by Memorial Day at the Downtown Commons.

Scott Martin, owner of N2 Packaging in Twin Falls, came up with the idea. The memorial will include an eternal flame and a series of individual plaques, each of which will bear the name of a Twin Falls County resident who died during military action or while serving as first responder.

Martin said he became more interested in helping veterans when he saw the conditions at the local Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars building.

Veterans had to carry each other into the bathroom because the door wasn't wide enough for their wheelchairs, Martin said. He called up local builders James Ray and Gary Nelson, who enlarged the door and made other improvements.

But Martin still wanted to do more for Twin Falls County veterans. One day he was at the Downtown Commons and saw kids playing in the splash pad. He saw a bare wall in the commons, too -- the wall perpendicular to the one covered in artwork -- and something clicked.

"I thought that was the perfect location to honor people in our community that have paid the ultimate sacrifice," Martin said. "Younger generations don't really think about it, so when I saw the kids playing in the water I really thought, 'That's a great opportunity to start a conversation.'"

The City Council has approved Martin's idea and set aside $45,000 to make the plaques and place them on the wall. The city is also accepting donations.

Right now the city is waiting on a list of names of Twin Falls County residents who died in action -- Sen. Jim Risch's office needs to get that list from the Department of Defense.

The honor wall won't be very duplicative. Twin Falls doesn't have any sort of memorial that honors all of its residents who died during their service, although there are some more specific memorials around town.

"I think we have a sort of cobbled-together effort," Twin Falls City Councilperson Shawn Barigar said. "This will be a much more visible, centrally located ... way to remember the sacrifices (of our service members)."

Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency Executive Director Nathan Murray said that it's fitting to have the honor wall right outside City Hall. Every week inside that building people freely debate how to run Twin Falls' democratic government. This wall honors those who gave their lives to ensure the people of Twin Falls have the freedom to express their views and govern themselves.

Veteran Bob Jackson said he likes the idea of the wall.

"We are told to honor those who served us," Jackson said. "I think it's really great when you do something and honor the vets and the first responders. ... They deserve it for the service they did and they deserve it so that their family can look at a wall and go, 'That's my mom, that's my dad.' ... Someday when I'm gone, I want my family to know who I was and what I did."


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