JEFFERSONVILLE — Tucked into a corner on the west side of Jeffersonville sits a reflective space now dedicated to honor the veterans who have served this nation.

Veterans Memorial Park, at 301 Mulberry Street in downtown Jeffersonville, was dedicated Wednesday during a ceremony attended by city officials, local veterans and the Jeffersonville Police Department Honor Guard.

In the center is a monument to veterans, surrounded by plaques telling the story of the area.

"This is great — this is long overdue," said Ron Hanger, member of the veterans organization the Forty and Eight club. "It needed to be done and I'm glad they stepped up to do it."

Hanger, who lives in Clarksville, said he passes the area all the time but had no idea what its history was until the ceremony Wednesday.

News and Tribune archives show that around 335 people are buried there — veterans from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The space also served as the city cemetery for residents.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said it also has an unusual twist, having soldiers from both sides of the Civil War. They were cared for at a hospital that once stood on East Park Place.

"This is a very historic site; it's very unique," Moore said. "You have on these grounds the burial of Confederate and Union soldiers from the Civil War. Those who lost their lives, this is where their final resting place was."

Throughout history, the area has also served as a spot for softball and football games, but Moore said he's glad the memorial is complete — the roughly $500,000 project took about three years and included archaeologist assistance to ensure that burial sites were not disturbed.

"I just thought we need to find a better way to recognize our veterans and those who have sacrificed everything," Moore said. "So we came up with the idea of making a better use of this place that could pay tribute to the men and women who have fought for us."

Moore said he also wanted to have something to mark Jeffersonville's contributions to the military over time, and to keep the knowledge alive for the younger generations.

"I want to make sure the next generations recognize the history of our city and of our country," he said. "Jeffersonville plays a very key role in our past and this was our opportunity to do something about it.

"It's past due — I'm glad we've done it and it's never too late to say thanks."

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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