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The first statue in the nation first statue calling attention to homeless veterans, depicting a male and female veteran made of marble, is slated to be installed at Cherokee Veterans Park in January.

MACEDONIA – The first statue calling attention to homeless veterans in the nation is nearing its installation date at a park in Cherokee County with the full support of county officials, businesses and the veteran community.

The privately funded statue – commissioned by the owner of a local funeral home, financially supported by local donations, designed by a committee of local veterans and partially constructed by a Waleska resident and veteran – was expected to arrive in the county over the weekend. Its installation at Macedonia’s Cherokee Veterans Park is expected to be complete around the second or third week of January.

The statue’s installation was approved by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners at its Nov. 20 meeting.

“The county was approached by the (Cherokee) County Homeless Veterans Program (a nonprofit program of the American Legion) with a proposal to install a statue in the park at no cost to the county,” a county staff summary in Nov. 20 meeting documents reads. “CCHVP would agree to provide all funding, materials and labor necessary for the creation and installation the statue… The Recreation and Parks Advisory Board reviewed the concept at their October meeting. They unanimously recommended approval of the concept.”

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Workers at Cherokee Veterans Park prepare the installation site on Thursday for the first statue calling attention to homeless veterans in the nation.

Jim Lindenmayer, director of the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program, said Thursday that President Donald Trump, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Gov. Nathan Deal and Governor-elect Brian Kemp have been invited to the unveiling ceremony on Jan. 25. Invitations have also been sent to Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia governor Sonny Purdue and Gen. Mark Milley, who serves as Chief of Staff of the Army and who was nominated by President Trump on Dec. 8 to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Lindenmayer said the unveiling date was chosen to fall prior to the week of Jan. 28, when the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has announced the annual point in time count will take place. The PIT count determines the amount of money that local agencies will receive to combat homelessness in their areas, based on the number of homeless documented during the week.

Lindenmayer also said the site is currently being prepped for concrete pouring, and that a time capsule filled with trinkets and pictures from the design committee’s members has already been buried at the site.

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A time capsule containing trinkets and memorabilia from members of the veterans design committee was buried at the homeless veteran statue installation site at Cherokee Veterans Park.

“It was something we wanted to put in there to commemorate the guys who worked on the statue,” he said.

The statue will include the inscription, “No veteran who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, a roof over their head or the care they need when they come home,” and will depict a male and female veteran.

Lindenmayer said the design of the female was modeled after Pam Parker, a former homeless veteran of Cherokee County. The Tribune previously reported on Parker’s struggle with homelessness after her discharge from the United States Marine Corps.

Lindenmayer said Thursday that Parker plans to attend the unveiling ceremony next month.

County parks officials, as well as Commission Chairman-elect Harry Johnston will also be in attendance. Johnston said Thursday that the statue will be a fitting tribute veterans and an under-publicized issue.

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A time capsule containing trinkets and memorabilia from members of the veterans design committee was buried at the homeless veteran statue installation site at Cherokee Veterans Park.

“We have lots of veterans in Cherokee County. We have lots of veterans who came before us, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “The statue – from what I understand about it – really paints an important picture of the veteran who has given a great piece of himself, and it’s left him with troubles that often veterans have. It points out to us the responsibility that we have to make sure that no veteran is left without a decent place to leave and something to eat.”

The homeless veterans statue will be unveiled at 11 a.m. on Jan. 25 at Cherokee Veterans Park, 7345 Cumming Highway, Canton. A reception will follow the unveiling.

Thomas is a government, business, crime and features reporter for the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger News. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University and currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia.

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