The Henderson War Memorial Foundation, Inc. (WMF) was founded in 1996 as a tax exempt corporation formed primarily to raise funds to construct a memorial dedicated to all military Veterans of Henderson County, Kentucky. The WMF succeeded with this project when on Memorial Day, 1999, the Henderson War Memorial was dedicated in Henderson’s downtown Central Park.
Following the success of this major effort, the WMF determined that many other worthy projects could and should be undertaken on behalf of Veterans and their families, so it was decided to expand the purpose and remain together as a voluntary group governed by a Board of Directors.
As such, the WMF works in close conjunction with Henderson American Legion Worsham Post No. 40 to fund the creation and placement of crosses in Central Park during the month of May to honor the deceased Veterans of Henderson County. Funding for the creation and installation of the crosses is a large and on-going expense especially considering that in 2017 the number of crosses in the park surpassed five-thousand. Henderson is one of the very few communities in the United States to carry on this tradition of honoring every single Veteran in our county who has gone on before.
The WMF is also instrumental in funding, scheduling, planning, and conducting Henderson’s annual Memorial Day Ceremonies. This includes securing a guest speaker for the event which has included some of the most eloquent and moving speakers in the Commonwealth.
Henderson is the home of two individuals awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor: Luther Skaggs, who was awarded the medal for extreme heroism in 1944 during World War II, and Gary Lee Littrell, awarded the medal in 1972 for his valor in Vietnam. The WMF was instrumental in working with Henderson County government to create a historical display in the Henderson County Courthouse to help honor these two men. (The citations for the two awards appear elsewhere on this site.)
In 2016, the WMF was instrumental in creating and placing a life-sized bronze statue to Henderson native, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. Admiral Kimmel was in command the Navy’s Pacific Fleet at the time Pearl Harbor suffered a surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. The statue of Admiral Kimmel was placed at the Four Flags Monument on Henderson’s riverfront on the Ohio River. The dedication ceremonies included attendance of over forty members of the Kimmel family from all over the United States.
The WMF created a plaza around the Kimmel statue on the riverfront that is comprised of inlaid, engraved bricks upon which an individual or group can honor a loved one or an organization. Bricks are being sold to the public, until space runs out, with the money raised being utilized to fund WMF Veteran related projects.
The WMF has also worked to fund Honor Flights to fly senior World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, DC for a one day all expenses paid visit to see the memorials that are dedicated to their service and sacrifices. Each senior Veteran is accompanied by another Veteran to provide assistance, as needed. These expenses are also paid by the WMF.
Planning is now underway to secure the necessary funding and appropriate permissions to erect statues to our two Medal of Honor recipients and to have Henderson’s two middle schools renamed for them. The statues would be placed at each school. We are hopeful that this project, too, will come to fruition in the near future.
A more immediate project undertaken by the WMF is to provide Christmas 2017 gifts and remembrance for all residents of the Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson, Kentucky. We want the Veterans there to know that they are remembered, honored, and that someone cares about them.