The West Virginia State Archives of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will post an internet database of names and available background information of state veterans listed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial, located on the grounds of the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, on Monday, May 28. While the database is an ongoing project, information collected to date, which includes the names of more than 10,000 veterans, is timed for release to coincide with this year’s Memorial Day Holiday. The database can be accessed at http://www.wvculture.org/history/wvmemory/wvvetmem.html.
The Memorial honors West Virginians who died or were declared missing while on duty during 20th-century military actions, including World World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Beirut and the Gulf War. While death did not have to occur in combat, it must have occurred during the official period of conflict and prior to discharge from the military. Veterans killed or missing in action must have been born in West Virginia or must have been a state resident six months prior to military service.
Research to identify the men and women who should be placed on the Memorial was begun by the West Virginia Veterans Memorial Commission, who utilized Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs listings, overseas burial records, and appeals to the public to collect information. For nearly three years, Archives staff members have worked with these files and conducted additional research to develop personal histories on these veterans.
As a result of this research and through additional public contacts, new names to add and necessary corrections have been identified, most notably misspellings. Newspapers, county histories, the American Battle Monuments Commission, county records, national databases and other sources are being studied to provide brief personal accounts of the veterans’ lives.
Names that are yet to be carved but have been verified as eligible are included in the database and are indicated in the date carved field as “to be carved.” The database will be updated monthly to reflect additional names and information identified through the continuing research effort.
The State Archives welcomes any information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history for each name listed on the memorial. For more information, contact Pat Pleska by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (304) 558-0230.
Each year, more than 100,000 people visit the Memorial. The names of more than 10,000 West Virginians appear on the two-story oval structure. Commissioned in 1985 as a memorial to Vietnam veterans, the monument was expanded to include veterans of all 20th-century military conflicts. The Memorial is based on a design by Charleston sculptor P. Joseph Mullins and was engineered by ZMM Inc. G&G Builders began construction in 1990. The $2.8 million memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1995. Bronze statues of a World War I infantryman, a World War II sailor, a Korean War airman and a Vietnam-era Marine have been installed on each side of the structure.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
Media Alert: The State Archives can provide a list of names for specific counties and periods of hostility in hard copy or electric format. Call (304) 558-0230 for more information.
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