ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Plans for a permanent tribute to veterans in Cheatham County are coming together thanks to community support.
The Cheatham County Veterans Memorial Park is located off Highway 49 and Bell Road in Ashland City. The 1.6-acre site is currently under construction.
John Otis Nichols became the project manager in 2019. As a long-time Cheatham County resident and Vietnam veteran, overseeing progress on the park has been a labor of love.
"We come out here 5 to 6 days a week to work on this park," said Nichols. "There is a lot of work going into this for the veterans of Cheatham county and the citizens of Cheatham county."
Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 52, Ashland City TN 37015 or online.
Nichols said the goal is to include the name of every veteran who has ever lived in Cheatham County and was honorably discharged from the U.S. military. He estimated that could be as many as 5,000 names.
"That is our most difficult task right now," said Nichols. "Collecting all those names, because there is not a central database."
The names will be engraved in granite panels on walls that border the park. The centerpiece of the park is a flag circle and five monuments that will honor veterans of World War I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the modern era, and POW/MIA's. The names of those who died while serving will also be prominently displayed.
Paver stones will also be featured with the names of veterans from outside of Cheatham County.
The project is being funded almost entirely by donations. Local businesses and contractors have helped by providing free equipment, materials and supplies. Donations have also come from outside of Cheatham County courtesy of the United Auto Workers and UAW Region 8.
Nichols said plans for the park continue to grow. Once the initial work is complete, there have also been discussions about adding park benches, a pavilion, restrooms, garden areas and additional lighting.
"We want to honor all the veterans of Cheatham county, and make this a special place, not only for them but for all of Cheatham Countians," said Nichols.
Nichols hopes to have the dedication for the park in April of 2021.