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Women Veterans Monument could be done by May 2017

LAS CRUCES – About a year from now, dedication of a monument honoring women military veterans will take place at Veterans Memorial Park, on Roadrunner Parkway.

That’s how long it is anticipated to take to create six life-size bronze statues representing women veterans who have served since World War I. The statues will be a major focal point of The Women Veterans Monument, at Veterans Memorial Park. The monument will be built just south of the garrison flag pole at the park.

“They probably won’t start construction until September, but the ground (where the monument will be) has been cleared as of this (Monday) morning,” said Cathy Mathews, landscape architect for the city of Las Cruces. “We anticipate completion of the monument in May 2017.”

Karen Woods, president of the United Military Women of the South West, said a public groundbreaking ceremony for the monument will be at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 at Veterans Park.

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“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s well deserved,” Woods said.

The $406,500 cost to build the monument will be through capital appropriation funding from the New Mexico Legislature. The monument will include the sculptures of servicewomen representing all military branches and eras during which they served in the military. Two prefabricated shade structures will frame the monument and cultured stone will clad the walls.

Signs announcing the new monument have been displayed at Veterans Park for about 10 months.

“We have worked on this for years,” Woods said. “There has been some changes to the conceptual design of the monument. Initially we were going to have iron railing around the statues. That’s gone, and the base they will be placed on will now be gradually tapered so it will be flush with the path behind the monument. The statues will be illuminated, but it will be a very subtle illumination. People will still be able to see the monument at night.”

Even with the changes, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Smith said he is anxious to see the finished product.

“This is long overdue, and I’m certainly looking forward to this,” Smith said.

So are women veterans in Las Cruces.

“This is going to be absolutely beautiful,” said Carol Gaines, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

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While construction of the monument is anticipated to take about 10 months, Woods said casting the one-of-a-kind statues could take about a year to complete. Gaines said the six statues will represent: the Army, and World War I; the Marines, and World War II; the Navy, and the Korean War; the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Cold War period; and the National Guard, and Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Mayor Ken Miyagishima was impressed.

“You belong to the greatest sorority in the U.S., and that’s women veterans,” Miyagishima said.

Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452, sramirez@lcsun-news.com, or @SteveRamirez6 on Twitter.

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