AN ARTIST'S RENDERING of the new Veterans Park.
AN ARTIST’S RENDERING of the new Veterans Park.

The Atlanta History Center shows off its new Veterans Park this weekend with two programs timed to coincide with Memorial Day, the federal holiday dedicated to the men and women who died while defending our country.

Military Timeline runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and features Lt. Cmdr. Michael N. Henderson of the Navy speaking about being the first African-American in Georgia inducted into the National Society Sons of the Revolution and how genealogy helped him trace his family’s military history. Also scheduled:

        Author Phil Nordyke discussing the 82nd Airborne Division, the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and his book Put Us Down in Hell.

        Living history interpreters representing every conflict since the Revolutionary War.

        Veterans, who’ll share personal stories.

        Kid-friendly crafts and role-playing activities.

        Self-guided audio tours of the exhibition Turning Point: The American Civil War.

        Self-guided tours of the exhibit Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello.

The events are free to Center members and included in admission for nonmembers ($16.50; $13 senior citizens and ages 13-18; and $11 ages 4-12). Save $2 when you buy ONLINE. Visitors with a military ID get in free. In addition,  the Atlanta History Center will honor free admission to all active duty military personnel and up to five family members from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Retired veterans receive free admission for up to two adults. Details available at 404.814.4000.

Veterans Park began in 2000 with a small garden honoring Vietnam War veterans. The expansion is designed as a gathering place that encourages reflection, personal connections to veterans and a celebration of the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The park will be publicly dedicated at 5 p.m. Monday, with a sacred soil ceremony led by Lt. Col. Richard A. Lester, who’s retired from the Army. Soil from every major U.S. conflict — including the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan — will be collected in a helmet worn by Col. John Ruggles of the 4th Infantry Division at Utah Beach on D-Day, then distributed on the grounds near the flagpole.

A new pedestrian entrance off West Paces Ferry Road and Slaton Drive leads to the park, which features Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard seals embedded in the ground. A series of panels, equipped with QR codes, features stories and oral histories from veterans that visitors can access with any smartphone.

The Atlanta History Center is at 130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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