Dick Eggerding, chair of the Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial Executive Board, is the originator and proponent of the memorial concept to the Oro Valley Town Council. A long-time Oro Valley resident, Eggerding has been an active volunteer for 25 years, instrumental in founding and co-founding several ongoing arts and cultural projects. Honoring all who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and first responders reflects a personal and life-long passion.
"My interest in showing reverence and respect for the Military has been a constant part of my life,” Eggerding said. His father died in 1935 from a lingering effect of an illness resulting in a medical discharge from the Army in World War I. “I was 2 years old and always remembered how caring the American Legion was,” he said.
Eggerding served in the Army in Korea and Japan during the 1950s. While serving he learned that one of his close childhood friends was killed on the last day of the Korean War.
“All these factors, coupled with the 9/11 attacks making me aware of the first responder sacrifices, converged into an idea for the Living Memorial,” he said. “We now have the opportunity to create a once-in-a-lifetime project to honor all the military branches and first responders. At the same time, we can create a project that provides an environment for meditation, important events and educational opportunities."
The fundraising goal of $1.9 million will provide for the construction of the Living Memorial to be located on 2.5 acres in Naranja Park, allocated by the Town of Oro Valley, in full view of the Catalina Mountains’ Pusch Ridge. It will contain art, monuments and landscaping that are symbolic to all branches of the Department of Defense and First Responders and will be free to all visitors.