The Arizona Heroes Memorial is a publicly funded project set to pay tribute to fallen veterans, first responders and healthcare workers once complete.

But how did this idea first come to fruition in 2015? According to Dick Eggerding, the brains behind the project, it was sparked by several significant events throughout his life.

Eggerding, now 90 years old, was a post-Korean War vet who served in the U.S. Army for two years.

He reflected on the motivations that fueled his inspiration, stating, “There are several things that are a catalyst.”

These catalysts can be traced back to various events that have shaped his perspective throughout his life, starting as early as the age of two when he tragically lost his father.

His father, a World War I veteran, contracted the Spanish Flu and received a medical discharge.

“He got a medical discharge but he didnt realize how damaged his heart was, he said. And he married my mother, had a brother, my brother was born, and nine years later I was born in 1933, and he passed away when I was two years old.”

The loss of his father marked the beginning of Eggerding’s lifelong commitment to honoring those who have served. The deaths of several family members during World War II as well as his best friend during the Korean War also fueled his desire.

The other inspiration: September 11, 2001.

He recalled, “The paradigm of all paradigms comes 9-1-1 that really left an impression on me. Looking at those people coming in and out of those buildings knowing full well theyre not going to come out some of them.”

Eggerding’s vision for the Arizona Heroes Memorial began to take shape when he approached Oro Valley city leaders five years ago seeking a feasibility test.

When the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world in 2020, he knew this memorial would be one to honor not only veterans or first responders, but healthcare workers as well.

When asked if the challenges brought on by the pandemic ever led to doubts about the project’s completion, Eggerding replied, “I hate to get personal but Im stubbornWhen I start giving back, I dont stop giving back just because the road got hard.”

Ground was first broken for the Arizona Heroes Memorial this past February, and construction is scheduled to commence this fall.

The anticipated completion date is Memorial Day 2024.