In 2000, Rebecca Jackson, then Jefferson County Judge/Executive, appointed a committee of local retired and former military personnel, as well as family members of the local United States military personnel, to visualize, conceive, fund, and erect a suitable memorial honoring fallen patriots. With the generous financial support of David and Betty Jones, as well as numerous local foundations, corporations, veterans’ organizations, families, friends, and patriotic citizens, the dream became a reality on Veterans Day, November 11, 2002.
Ever mindful that military readiness is a dangerous endeavor, fallen patriots continue to be enshrined each year during a solemn ceremony on Memorial Day. As a name is added, a brick is removed and replaced with a personalized etched glass identifying each patriot, signifying our loss. This void in an otherwise solid wall becomes a portal of light transforming the interior by day and radiating outward at night through each name as a reminder to celebrate daily the joy of freedom purchased and safeguarded by these brave men and women.
Despite its unique design incorporating an etched relief of an American flag on its north wall, the memorial lacked an actual American flag flying in silent tribute to those enshrined therein. The Patriots Peace Memorial Committee chose to approach the families and friends of those enshrined for individual donations, no matter how large or small, in an effort to give them an opportunity to honor their own sons and daughters in a very meaningful and visible manner. The response was most gratifying. On Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, as we gathered to recognize those who have made the supreme sacrifice in the defense of this nation, we together solemnly raised an American flag as an enduring tribute to those we honor.
It is our hope, that as our fellow citizens pass this beautiful site, they will see Old Glory flying proudly in the Ohio River breeze and reflect on the sacrifice made by these brave patriots. May this universally recognized symbol of freedom and courage add dignity and respect to this truly unique memorial and may we all feel a sense of genuine national pride for those whose memories we honor.
The Patriots Peace Memorial honors servicemen and servicewomen who walk constantly in harm’s way and who died while on active duty, but not in combat. It offers a quiet place for grieving families and friends to remember these fallen heroes.
— David and Betty Jones
Concept, Design and Construction
As the purpose and theme of the Patriots Peace Memorial came into focus, a design competition was held in mid-2001. Dedicated to the memory of those who died while serving the military in peacetime, the winning design by Maryland architect, David D. Quillin, was a cube floating on concrete pylons, interspersed with glass “bricks” bearing the names of the fallen patriots. The architectural challenge was to “design a memorial to those who gave their lives in the line of duty for the United States at times other than those of declared hostile action.” The site selected for the memorial was located next to River Road in Louisville’s east end on the Ohio River. This was a high-profile location for a memorial, as the road was heavily traveled, and a popular golf driving range was situated on adjacent property. The land for the memorial was donated by local businessman, David A. Jones, Chairman of the Humana Corporation, and his wife Betty A. Jones, who were both instrumental in helping to raise the necessary funds for the project, as the total cost for the memorial eventually rose to $530,000.
The design competition was launched in March 2001, with competition entries to be submitted by late May-before Memorial Day. An impressive jury was assembled by Professional Advisor, Jim Walters, Bravura, Inc. to select a winning design. They included:
- Lee H. Skolnick (Architect), New York
- Grady Clay (Consulting Editor), Louisville, Kentucky
- Ed Hamilton (Sculptor), Louisville, Kentucky
- Elizabeth Meyer (Landscape Architect), Charlottesville, Virginia
- LtCol Charles McLaurine (USMC-Ret), Patriots Peace Memorial Committee
There were forty entries submitted, and after deliberating for a full day, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They selected a submission by David D. Quillin of Berlin, Maryland for the commission. Following the selection, the architecture firm of Bravura, Inc. of Louisville, which had administered the competition, undertook the difficult task of turning paper architecture into reality. This was no small task, as the original construction budget of $350,000 left little room for much flexibility. One of the first things to change was the facade, originally conceived as limestone, but changed to a light-toned masonry which still provided a subtle tectonic effect. The construction company (American Contracting and Services, Inc., Jeffersonville, Indiana) also went the extra mile in finding subcontractors who had been low bidders. In the end, a final $50,000 grant gave the sponsor the funding it needed to go ahead with the project. Extra funding came in at the end of the project for landscaping and site improvements.
Although the competition site could be viewed as anything but contemplative in nature before construction began, the final verdict confirmed the opinion of the jurors that this location could also function well as a memorial, with the right design. A quiet pond separated the memorial from golfing activities, and a line of trees helped shield it from a busy thoroughfare. The words of juror, Elizabeth Meyer, spoken a year previously before any bricks and mortar existed, turned out to be prophetic: “The project is powerful on two levels. First, its enclosure and elevation above the ground create a sacred, dignified space for a memorial on a site that is full of distractions—ball games, golf putting, bicycles, etc.”
As a contextual piece in the landscape, the memorial resembles the architecture of its neighbors along the river in that the main structure rises above grade level. Almost all of the neighboring homes and buildings are built one story above ground level to accommodate the flood plain. Dan Church, a member of the Bravura, Inc. team, remarked that none of the designs of the other competition finalists allowed for this factor to the same extent as the Quillin design. And by doing so, it accomplished something else: it allowed those who entered the interior of the memorial the opportunity to view the names—only legible from the inside—in complete solitude.
Although the neighboring pond did not belong to the site boundaries, one would think that it automatically was part of the grand plan, as it also provided an aura of serenity to the memorial. This competition was successful from start to finish – with the obvious budget constraints, it was built within the appointed time period, and it serves not only the families of those who died in the service of their country in peacetime but is a project the community as a whole can be proud of. As one of the better examples of memorial architecture to appear since the Vietnam Memorial, it easily surpasses Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and Washington’s World War II Memorial as an example of what modern memorial architecture can be and should be.
“A New Kind of Memorial – Louisville Honors Servicemen Who Gave Their Lives in Peacetime,” Competitions Magazine, Fall 2002
Groundbreaking and Dedication Ceremonies
Throughout the United States, many organizations and communities have constructed memorials in honor of those who have given their lives in the defense of our nation, during declared wars or other adversarial conflicts. Sadly, little has been done to memorialize those brave members of our armed forces, who have died while serving their nation in the line of duty, under conditions other than declared hostile actions. The September 11 (2001) attacks bring to attention the need we have to remember those who died for their country in peacetime.
Active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel from all branches of our armed forces, as well as National Guard components, have joined together under the leadership of Jefferson County Judge/Executive Rebecca Jackson and David Jones, Chairman of the Board, Humana, Inc., to dedicate a memorial to those forgotten patriots who have died, while serving in our armed forces. It is important that we recognize their sacrifice, through the dedication of this unique and significant memorial, which will stand as a tribute to their service.
“Many of us have loved ones who have given their lives in the line of duty to keep America’s defense strong in time of peace. This edifice will serve as a lasting memorial to the ultimate sacrifice made by these individuals. Our community thanks these, our sons and daughters, who left us to serve and returned no more.”
Rebecca Jackson, Jefferson County Judge/Executive
“We lost our son, Brice, during a training mission in Misawa, Japan. His U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed during takeoff. Brice and others like him suffered and died and he is no longer with us. We will never hear his voice, touch his face, feel his hug, experience his joys, feel his pain or laugh with his children. He is gone forever. The suffering that we as parents, family and friends endure is also just as deep as those who lost loved ones in battle. Honoring Brice and the many others like him with this memorial will demonstrate that we as a people understand the sacrifice and remember those who gave their all.”
Charlie and Nancy Simpson
“Patriotism is not necessarily a quality tempered in the heat of combat. Rather, it is a flame that burns intensely in the heart of every citizen who stands ready to give his or her all for the cause of freedom. This monument will stand as a candle in remembrance of those who have served – yet whose flame was extinguished before they were called upon to demonstrate their professionalism under fire. It is time to honor their commitment.”
Major Allen D. Broussard, USMC (Ret)
Chairperson, Patriots Peace Memorial
In 2016 an extensive restoration of the Memorial was completed under the leadership and supervision of former chairperson Tammy S. Wells. A redesign and replacement of all glass plates were completed. Several areas of concern were also addressed as well as general cleaning and updating of the facility. The Patriots Peace Memorial Board would like to thank all the individuals and organizations who made this endeavor possible, especially contractors Kentucky Mirror and Plate Glass, Inc. and BJB Restoration, Inc, both of Louisville, Kentucky. See the gallery for more photos.
Nancy J. Simpson Bench Dedication
On July 16, 2013, a ceremony was held to dedicate a bench in memory of Nancy J. Simpson, a founding member. Nancy and Charles Simpson lost their son, Lt. M. Brice Simpson, USAF, the inspiration for our Memorial, in an aircraft training accident in Japan. See the gallery for the dedication.
David A. Jones & Betty A. Jones Tree Dedication
During 2020, a tulip poplar tree was planted on the grounds of the Patriots Peace Memorial in grateful appreciation of David and Betty Jones, long-time benefactors. Due to COVID-19 mitigation, formal dedication of the tree, with the ceremonial unveiling of a granite and bronze marker, was delayed until Memorial Day 2021. See more information below and view the gallery for the dedication.