Hillsborough County, Florida — Mark Goujon is a man with a vision. “You walk in and you’ve got this monument here in the center,” he explains while walking through a grassy section of Veterans Memorial Park .
Underneath the moss-laden oaks, Goujon sees a memorial for those who served in the Iraq wars, including the 196 casualties from Florida.
“My heart really goes out to the families,” he says.
And this Air Force veteran knows a bit about that kind of hurt; while investigating bombings in Iraq Goujon lost six members of his team. The memory of their sacrifice fuels his passion for the memorial.
“To me, it’s just so important to get this done,” he says. “I’m just at the right time of my life to make this happen and I’m just driven to do it.”
The park is already home to a Vietnam Memorial. Veteran Dave Braun says it’s a special place, so someday he hopes Iraq vets will also be able to say, “This is my park. This is my memorial.”
Veterans and business people are now joining together to raise money for the Iraq memorial. The centerpiece will be a bronze, six-foot tall Fallen Soldier Battle Cross. On Wednesday, Texas designer Lori Betz gave supporters a taste of what’s to come, by presenting them with a much smaller wax model.
“You did a great job with the dog tags,” says Goujon, looking at the replica.
About the project, Betz had this to say, “It means a lot to the families, it means a lot to the country. It meant a lot to us personally to be involved in this.”
So far, supporters have raised about $10,000 toward their goal of $250,000. It’s a lot of money, but Goujon is committed to his vision.
“I don’t think,” he says. “I know it’s going to happen.”
For more information on the Iraq Veterans Memorial click here .