The Nevada State Veteran’s Memorial is one of our community’s lesser-known free attractions. Located on 2 1/2 acres of the Grant Sawyer building complex on East Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard just north of Downtown Las Vegas, its presence and purposes are not to be missed.
Alan Schrimpf, a local general contractor and one of four founding Board Members of the project, summarizes the components of the memorial as follows. “At its center, there is a five-soldier bronze statue representing our present-day War on Terror depicting a wounded soldier being carried off the battlefield as a female rescue helicopter soldier and a special forces soldier are ‘watching their Six.’ Looking beyond the centerpiece statue are silver statutes in historically accurate attire representing ghostly figures from each of our country’s past conflicts overlooking what’s happening today. Immediately adjacent to the centerpiece is a bronze statue of a senior veteran and a family, where you can see and feel the veteran explaining our country’s conflicts and the sacrifices made. Behind the historical figures, you will find six 18-foot granite walls bearing quotes from presidents, admirals, and generals who have influenced our history. Some of these historical quotes are familiar, but others were selected to further educate and inspire.”
The memorial was dedicated in 2016, and of course, something new and highly publicized initially garnered many visitors. However, since then, Schrimpf reflected, “Sadly, I have met many people new to Las Vegas or coming out here from across the country who’ve not heard of it or simply found it by accident. This world-class memorial on par with those in Washington DC being somewhat unknown or less than steadily visited was not our mission in creating it for our community.”
Now, more than 5 years after the Nevada State Veterans Memorial was dedicated, Schrimpf is on a new mission to re-amplify the original message and meaning behind this memorial.
“While the design, statutes, and physical aspects of the memorial are world-class, we also chose to prominently feature veteran families because they are affected as well. This is not just about people going to war and coming back—it’s also about those who don’t come back as well as those who return with life-altering conditions.
The return of a veteran, whatever condition they’re in, also profoundly affects their families. A lot of people don’t automatically think about that unless they’ve had a family member in the military.”
Schrimpf, who founded Southern Vegas Valley Contracting more than 2 decades ago, said he has a lifelong love and respect for the military. As one of the founding members of the Las Vegas Veterans Memorial Foundation, he donated hundreds of hours of his time and experience as the contractor of record in daily project management and on-site construction activities. Additionally, during challenging times he tirelessly solicited donations to help meet budget demands raising $1.8 million of the $2.7 million. Schrimpf recalls, “Back in 2013 to 2016, because times were economically unsteady here, trying to get people to donate cash was very challenging.” Even though cash donations were slow, the project needing to keep moving forward. Schrimpf pivoted his approach and began seeking hands-on assistance from the community he knew so well—the Las Vegas construction industry. Even from his first inquiries, it was clear that those community members solidly supported veterans and preferred to donate large quantities of construction materials and hours of labor rather than simply writing a check. Schrimpf added, “it was amazing and so rewarding to find many wanting to help literally build portions of the memorial as their ‘donation.’ As it turned out, everyone was true to their pledges, and some companies even expanding their initial contributions. I believe the construction industry donations in particular really enhanced what this memorial ultimately became.”
As you walk through the memorial, there are areas included for people to pause at their pace to view the memorial as a whole, focus on individual components, and perhaps, have a moment remembering a friend or family member who served. Whatever one’s purpose is when visiting this space, its creators endeavored to provide reverence, honor, beauty, examples of sacrifice, and inspiration.
“I have always had a soft spot in my soul for veterans and their children,” said Schrimpf. “I wanted to give something back to the community. I wanted to leave a legacy that’s meaningful for the next generation who can visit this memorial, learn from our country’s history, and maybe stop the next conflict. I hope everyone in our community and visitors alike takes some time to visit and then tell others about their experiences.”
The Nevada State Veteran’s Memorial is located at 555 East Washington Avenue, Las Vegas 89101.