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Service & Sacrifice: French Broad Veterans Memorial Park

“This would be a great opportunity to thank a veteran," said Navy veteran Marilyn Childress asking for donations to build a new park in East Knox County.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — The forested strip of land in east Knox County overlooking the French Broad River and East Tennessee State Veterans cemetery was a gift.

“Everyone can invest in this park. Everyone can come to the park. It won't be restricted just for veterans groups. It can be educational, it can be impactful. It's really a park for everyone that honors the veterans,” said Legacy Parks Foundation Executive Director Carol Evans.  

The Knoxville-based nonprofit accepted the 13 acres of old quarry land from Blue Water Industries and is helping launch a $1 million public fundraising campaign to help turn the park plans into a reality.

“(Knox) County kicked it off with $250,000 earlier this year. The price tag on this park is about $1.2 million to be able to put a pavilion that will accommodate 250 people and parking and a pathway and sites for memorials,” said Evans.

“It's just a big need right now Knox County because there's not a place that it's like this,” said Marylin Childress who served in the Vietnam era as a Navy hospital corpsman.  

She is helping spearhead the public fundraising campaign to build the new park.

Credit: John Becker
Veteran Navy hospital corpsman Marylin Childress is encouraging donations to build a new park on a bluff overlooking the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery

“If you want to have a service to memorialize someone, it is very fitting. It’ll have trails in it, adaptive trails, where if you want to take somebody in a wheelchair out in the wilderness there's going to be an opportunity to do that…it’s going to be a multi-use opportunity and great place for veterans to get together and be with their brothers and sisters again,” said Childress.

If the fundraising and construction fall in place, supporters hope to have the park built and open by the end of 2022.

Donations to the park can be made through Legacy Parks Foundation.