COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — While the veterans memorial wall now standing inside Coopersville High School will never stop growing, it has reached its first state of semi-completion. The living memorial consists of photos of just under 400 hundred graduates of the district who went on to serve their country.
It was a passion project of current and former staff members, particularly former wood shop teacher Warren Warber and former school administrator Kathleen Gomez.
It all began as just an idea in 2013 when Warber and Gomez would regularly share short chats on a bench outside one of Warber's classrooms.
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“I got called up here by Warren one day," Gomez recalled to FOX 17 Thursday, sitting on that same bench.
"We sat on this bench and we looked over at a blank wall, and he says, 'You see that wall?', and I said, 'Yeah.'”
They began brainstorming what a permanent memorial might look like. They decided it would center around raised walls, lined with the photos of all Coopersville students who served in some branch of the military.
“I thought this is the perfect place because when they unload the buses, every student walks down this hall, past the wall,” Warber explained.
When they finally put the word out for families to send them photographs of relatives who served, they were overwhelmed with the response.
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“It's a small town; word of mouth works best," Gomez said.
"Especially with seniors... you can put stuff on Facebook, but you can't hit things as fast as seniors can get the word out.”
Pictures came in from all over the United States.
“Everybody got behind us... 'What can we do? How can we help?' And then it kind of just... it took off from there,” Warber said.
There is an open house for the public to come visit the wall Thursday evening from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
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