Atlanta Journal & Constitution Article 2004
                                                Honoring vets
                                     Henry wants wall to pay tribute
                                                 By Eric Stirgus
Joanne Mulvaney stumbled upon the poem while pursuing plans to erect a commemorative wall
honoring
America’s military.
“Do not stand by my grave and weep… I am not there; I do not sleep.�
As she reads that first verse, tears stream down Mulvaney’s cheeks.
She plans to have the poem etched in the wall of the veterans memorial that, if completed, will stand in
McDonough’s Heritage Park.
The effort by Mulvaney and several American Legion branches marks a renewed push in Henry
County to
bring a national veterans memorial to the area.
Three years ago the county made four sites available for a national cemetery. Despite the lobbying of
local admirals, generals and historians, the National Cemetery Administration selected a site in
Cherokee.
Metro Atlanta has a number of veterans memorials, such as the ones at the Atlanta History Center and
Dekalb’s Brook Run and in Smyrna. And Rockdale County is building a Veterans Memorial Park.
But those pushing the idea in Henry County say the Veterans Wall of Honor, as it will be known, will be
different from any other memorial in the nation because it will honor America’s entire military
history.
They envision battle scenes from each U.S. war etched into the granite structure, which will stand 11
feet
tall and 75 feet long. The wall will also include famous speeches and poems honoring America’s
military.
“These men and women have put their lives on the line to protect us,� says Mulvaney, 43 a
Dekalb
development department review officer.
Last month, Henry County commissioners agreed to set aside 2 ½ acres in McDonough’s
Heritage Park
for the wall. One commissioner called it the “perfect place� for the memorial.
Building the wall will cost $250,000.
Mulvaney and others are raising the money privately, with some assistance from Henry County
government.
So far, they say, they’ve raised a few thousand dollars. The engineer and engraver have agreed to
provide
their services at no cost.
The wall, Mulvaney says, came to her in a dream one night as she thought about her father, Joseph
Consalvo, who worked at Robbins Air Force Base during World War II.
Consalvo, 87, lies in a Jonesboro nursing home, suffering from brain cancer. A dispute with the
Department of Veterans Affairs over benefits and care for her father prompted Mulvaney to begin
researching into veterans’ benefits.
Mulvaney sent letters to newspapers across the country and lobbied her local congressional
representatives, decrying what she believes is a lack of resources and care provided by the federal
government.
During that time she began thinking of ways to honor America’s veterans.
The wall, she says, seemed appropriate.
Mulvaney’s efforts have inspired other veterans, such as Mike Starnes, who is among those
working on
the idea.
“She’s quite a gal,â€� Starnes, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, says of Mulvaney. â
€œShe’s educated
us quite a lot with issues concerning the VA.�
For now, though, Mulvaney has focused her efforts on the wall.
She hopes to see it built by Veterans Day.
By then, Mulvaney hopes to be able to read that poem without weeping.
“One of these days,� she says, “I’m going to do it.�