A project 11 years in the making that will be the final showcase of the Veterans Memorial in downtown Shawnee will soon become a reality.

A project 11 years in the making that will be the final showcase of the Veterans Memorial in downtown Shawnee will soon become a reality.

The latest addition to the Veterans Memorial will be 10 black granite panels that are 6 feet wide, 6 feet tall and about eight inches thick.

Bill Ford, with the Veterans Memorial Committee, said each panel weighs 3,800 pounds and the grouping will display the names of Oklahoma military members who have died in combat since the Spanish-American War.

The panels are the grand finale of the memorial, which has changed the landscape of downtown Shawnee and provided a place for the community to gather and honor veterans.

Right now, workers are preparing the bases that will hold the heavy columns and stem walls for each panel after they arrive from overseas and have the etching work completed in Tulsa.

“A crane will put them in place around Veterans Day, Nov. 11,” Ford said. “It's a very monumental part of our park.”

The panels depict all those in the military from the state of Oklahoma who have died in war — there are 7,000 names for the panels.

“It's quite a finale to our effort,” Ford said. “We've been working on this for 11 years.”

The committee utilized help from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to compile the list of all Oklahoma military members who have died.

There will be lighting around the panels at night.

“We're very proud to honor the fallen for our country,” he said. “The whole town needs to be proud — the whole town supported it. It belongs to the city of Shawnee.”

Ford said the Veterans Memorial committee has remained dedicated by meeting weekly for the past 11 years. Some of those who were initial members of the committee have since passed away and other veterans have joined the committee, but most of the core group has seen the project from its inception 11years ago through today

The Memorial, located south of Highland Street on Broadway Street, near the Pottawatomie County courthouse, is patterned after a five-point star symbolizing each branch of the military. Visitors enter through 26,000 pound solid granite archway that includes etchings of soldiers representative of World War I and II. The memorial includes several items, including a 1965 Huey Helicopter, one of the most recognizable wartime helicopters.