NORFOLK, Neb. — Norfolk Veterans Home residents and visitors seeking a quiet spot to enjoy Nebraska's blue skies and sunshine will no longer have to push their way through a maze of cars in a parking lot.
Now, they can walk — or be pushed in wheelchairs — along the paths that meander through Heroes Park at the Norfolk Veterans Home.
The park was officially dedicated Thursday afternoon during a ceremony that included state and local officials and representatives of the Norfolk Veterans Home Foundation.
The foundation raised more than $2 million to build the park and supervised its construction.
This park “has been a vision of the community for a long time ... because (citizens) have had a strong desire to give something back” to veterans, Norfolk Mayor Sue Fuchtman said.
“Now we have a lasting tribute to veterans — those who are here, those who have gone before us and those yet to come.”
Gov. Dave Heineman echoed her sentiments.
These projects “tell veterans they are special for what they have done for this country,” he said.
Heineman toured the park behind the home as well as the Veterans Memory Plaza in front. There he was shown the memory tiles that are a feature of the plaza. The tiles can be purchased in honor of any veteran, living or dead. Scanning a QR code on the tile takes the viewer to a website that provides information about that particular veteran.
The plaza has granite walls that hold the tiles and granite benches etched with images of battles from every major war. It includes statues of praying soldiers and an eternal flame.
The park includes a pavilion where large gatherings can be held. Smaller gathering spaces, covered seating areas, gardens, playgrounds for children and other amenities will be finished next spring.
The park is for all veterans, not just those who live at the home, said Jerry Eisenhauer, Norfolk Veterans Home administrator.
About 200 people gathered in the veterans home's activity room for the dedication ceremony, including many residents of the home.
Foundation members and veterans home officials decided it was too cold to take residents outside for the park's dedication, said Deb Becker, a board member and employee.