Local News

Group Plans to Build $20M Attraction to Honor Vets

Posted May 19, 2007

— A $20 million national attraction dedicated to the stories of 19 million United States veterans is in the works in Cary.

SAS founder Jim Goodnight, and his wife donated the land for Veterans Freedom Park on North Harrison Avenue.

Dave Milidonis, executive director of the nonprofit behind the project, said he sees it as his duty to share the freedom story with anyone who'll listen.

“(It's to be) a world-class park and national destination point, which is a big vision, and much larger than starting with small pieces,” Milidonis said.

An Army veteran himself, Milidonis said his plans include adding a 150-foot spire with an educational center, and interactive exhibits, allowing veterans to share their experiences with future generations.

“They'll drive through a trench system reminiscent of WWI,” said Army veteran Al Fessenden, who is helping Milidonis design the plan and raise the funds.

The group is also working to preserve veterans’ stories for history by restoring service records. They are also helping to save voice recordings of individual veteran accounts.

“My vision, my whole intent, is to create a place here that tells that story,” Milidonis said.

So far, the nonprofit has quietly raised $4 million, but the public should expect to hear more from the group. On Friday, it is expecting hundreds of people to come to the park for its first veteran's story day.


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  • At Work May 21, 2007

    I think that this is a very nice idea, but.... That money could be used for so much more. It could help the poor or kids in need or feed the needy. Whatever the cause I just think that 20 million is a little much.

  • fleetfootphil May 21, 2007

    I have to laugh. I'm a vet and I live in Cary. Why is this so ugly and is it just going to get $20 million dollars uglier? I thought part of the reason that land was given as a "park" was so it would not be developed. How is this different from another CVS pharmacy or Wendy's being jammed up at the curb where it calls attention to itself and has no dignity. The sculpture of the helmet on a rifle is hideous. As a veteran, I'm appalled at the lack of aesthetic vision among the "planners." Tawdry and predictably bad. Maybe we can look for special events at the park on the dynamic message boards.

  • KenH May 21, 2007

    I believe this to be a noble effort to recognize the efforts of veterans across the country as well as those her in NC. They are collecting stories from veterans from all aspects of the Military and those stories will be available for many years to come. Lets all try to support this effort which is not based on any ulterior motives but to give the veterans some display of the love and affection for what they have done for our country.

  • Uncle Ruckus May 21, 2007

    I drive by this almost everyday. I keep waiting the Cary "Code Pinkies" to vandalize it. Also, I believe there are four VFW's in/around Cary & Apex. My sons attended Cub Scouts at the local VFW club. And as a former vet, I can afford to eat at Ms. Goodnight's Bristo, and guess what, I was enlisted swine to boot.

  • I hear voices May 21, 2007

    Considering the memorial is being built by donations I don't see how anyone can question how the money is spent. It's not as thought the government is adding a tax increase to pay for it. It's like someone trying to tell you that instead of building a new home you should donate that money to go towards building a hospital. I think it's a grand gesture.

  • houdie1031 May 21, 2007

    I would prefer that we show our support of the Veterans by (1) ending Bush's Iraq war (2) and taking care of our current Veterans.

  • Winston May 21, 2007

    diana123..YOU(diana.wilson@ssa.gov) are wasting taxpayers money by posting here at 11:24AM...what's your supervisor's name?

  • diana123 May 21, 2007

    donate the 20M to rehab programs and all other needs these heroic vets deserve. they have horrific wounds and experience agony.

  • Winston May 21, 2007

    I spend all MY money on things I want/need. These PRIVATE donors can donate THEIR money as THEY wish.

  • Fiddlemom May 20, 2007