Tucson in battle over war memorial

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson will soon erect a memorial to World War II veterans.

That much is not in doubt.

What's in question, is where to put it. Many city staff feel the appropriate place is downtown in Armory Park.

It has a rich military tradition, memorials to the Spanish American War and World War I.

It will also be near the streetcar line which means it will likely be seen by many people.

On the other hand, many veteran's organizations would like to see it in Kino Park, across the street from Kino Sports Complex.

A memorial to Korean War Vets was built there 13 years ago, and the vet groups would like to see the WWII memorial there too.

"Let's set aside politics and lest do what's best for the veteran's community," says Dan Ross, chair of the Tucson Veteran's Commission.

That commission was established to determine what kind of memorial to build and where it should be built.

"Why would we ask them their opinion if our response was let's just ignore it and put it where we want it," says Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik.

Armory Park already has a small memorial statue to the Spanish America War vet and for the World War I vet, so it would likely make sense there.

But it's not that easy.

The project was put on hold for several years because of the Great Recession but now it's back on the table.

And time is short.

"The World War II vet is dropping off quickly," says Ross. We don't have that many of them left that would be able to go out and see it."

WWII vets are dying at a rate of a 1,000 a day, which means in six years, only a hand full will remain.

And for families who have soldiers who have served in multiple wars, to be able to honor them all at the same time is important.

"It would be nice to have them all in one spot," says Romelia Chavarria whose father served in World War II and other family members in Korea and Vietnam. "Kino would be a nice spot for them to be."

Kozachik thinks its a no-brainer.

"We asked for their opinion," he says. "They studied it, looked at a variety of sites, this is memorial for them, by them, honor them, respect them, put it where they want it."

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