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Columnist will document veterans memorials

As a journalist, author and filmmaker, much of my recent work has evolved around reporting on veterans and military issues. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about those topics as they relate to Nevada in particular. Because of that and other details of my experience, I have been tasked by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services to locate, research the history of, and photograph the dozens of veterans memorials that are situated throughout the state. The collected information will appear on the NDVS website.

I’m beginning the search in Clark County. In the coming months I’ll begin researching memorials in Nye County and then continue north during the spring and summer months.

While the majority of statewide veterans memorial locations are known, there are many more that sadly have been forgotten. Some are isolated in what over the years have become large urban areas, which often serve to hide vintage memorials. Some are behind buildings, covered by signage, hidden by fencing or lost inside unattended overgrown foliage. The memorials were constructed to honor the brave men and women who served in our nation’s military. It’s our responsibility to let them see the light of day again.

One of the catalysts that prompted the project was my discovery of a memorial near downtown Las Vegas that was erected in 1905 to honor Gold Star families. It’s on city property, but it’s hidden in plain sight behind a fence on the grounds of a senior center.

While I was researching an article about Gold Star families, I happened to come across information about the edifice. Over the years I have driven past the location hundreds of times, but I never realized it was there until I came upon the research. That, and the great work of promoting veterans by the NDVS, was responsible for my being asked to take on the project.

NDVS is Nevada’s stellar veterans organization, and the assignment to research veterans memorials throughout the Silver State is an amazing opportunity. It’s an honor that I am very proud to be a part of. I’ll be contacting mayors, city managers, public information officers, visitors bureaus, museums, historical societies, veterans organizations and other knowledgeable parties who may have information concerning veterans memorials in other areas.

My interest in the history of the Silver State is deep. I’m a founding member and two-term chairman of the Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission and I’ve written about Nevada and military history for various publications, including this newspaper.

I am aware that Boulder City has numerous veterans memorials, including many at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, that are openly visible and in select areas. But if anyone has information about other Nevada veterans memorials in the state that may not be widely known, please forward information to me at bakerwriter@cox.net.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

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