Installed directly behind city hall and dedicated in January 1998, the Faces of War monument represents American armed forces personnel, medics and Vietnamese civilians who died in or were otherwise significantly touched by the Vietnam War.
Its solemnity is underscored during the ceremony when family or friends of a fallen service man or woman lay a wreath at its base.
Now there is a plan to move the entire 14-foot by 20-foot monument, to a wooded area in the southwest corner of the adjacent Archibald Smith Plantation, one of Roswell’s three historic museum homes. The concept is part of the city green plan being proposed by the Downtown Development Authority to create a centrally located green space joining city hall to the Canton Street business district, complete with an interactive water feature, expansive lawn and outdoor seating.
“The purpose of creating an active city green is to leverage the vibrancy of Canton Street, increase connectivity between Canton Street and the 400 parking spaces behind city hall and create a central place where all residents of Roswell can gather and enjoy our wonderful city,” said Monica Hagewood, speaking on behalf of the authority.
To accomplish that aim, the monument has to be moved, said Mayor Jere Wood.
“We’re trying to open up that part of town by providing even more space at city hall and the memorial cuts it off between the road and city hall. It’s not possible to open up to Canton Street with the memorial there,” said Wood.
Hagewood said the authority spent a considerable amount of time trying to balance the new vision with the existing usage and layout of the city green area.
“The Faces of War Memorial requires a quiet, shaded contemplative space, quite the opposite from an active city green,” she said.
The proposed new location on Smith Plantation grounds was “well vetted to make sure that the 6,000-plus attendees of the Memorial Day event were accommodated,” Hagewood said.
“The operational layout of the event was actually overlaid on the new location and works very well. The attendees would all be able to sit in complete shade on a very gently sloping terrain and view the program.”
Some trees would have to be removed but specimen trees would remain, according to the mayor, who said he thinks the monument “would be an enhancement” of the historic property.
“It will bring more people to Smith,” Wood said. “The front of Smith House gets very little use. I’d like to see more activity, like people lying on the grass there, picnicking.”
The authority will present its city green concept to city council in a work session on Jan. 27, 5:30 p.m. in Room 220 of city hall. The work session is open to the public.