What Can we do to help? That was the question that all of Jacksonville was asking Ray and Jan Moore, the founders of the Veteran’s Memorial Wall. After years of researching microfilm in old libraries and requesting records overseas, Ray Moore began putting his finishing touches on the wall in 1994.
He says that only people that went to high school in Jacksonville and/or had Jacksonville as their Home of Record are candidates to be memorialized on the wall. The wall currently honors a little over 1,600 veterans, with Ray Moore updating it once a year on Memorial Day.
Ray has made several efforts over the years to ensure that the wall represents all of those who lost their lives fighting in the wars, across all six branches of the military.
Ray was inspired by a framed memorial he found in the early 90’s, “It was in the library and they were about to throw it out. It has water damage but I kept the original document after all these years.” The document is from 1945 and lists all of the soldiers from Jacksonville that lost their lives in World War I.
Ray recalls the beginnings of the wall, “We would go to the library on the weekends and find old newspapers and make copies. My wife used a typewriter to type up all of the names, because it was before computers were popular. Without her help none of it would have been possible.”
Ray’s best friend’s mother called him in 1993. “His mother said, ‘Ray, when you build this wall you have to include my brother. We named our son after him.” Ray was shocked, the first name he saw while investigating the veterans from Jacksonville was the name of his best friend’s uncle. “It still gives me chills to this day. I knew it was my destiny. To memorialize these people and give something to those families.”
Ray Moore helps honor Jacksonville’s veterans to this day but shies away from the credit, highlighting his wife and the community members who helped him complete the landmark. The next commemoration ceremony is on Veteran’s Day. The Wall will celebrate its 20th year since being erected. Visit the Memorial Wall at 1145 East Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville.