2 Paducah monuments to honor Clarence Gaines, veterans of war on terror

Monuments give you a place to visit and remember people and events that affected you.

"They promote the history of Kentucky, the history of Paducah and the citizens of Paducah," Paducah Parks and Recreation Director Mark Thompson said.

Right now, Paducah has nearly 50 monuments throughout town. On Tuesday, city commissioners approved two more.

Gary Hamilton sits at Robert Coleman Park often, remembering how much it’s changed in the 63 years he’s lived in Paducah.

"I used to come here every day after school and shoot ball," Hamilton said.

Soon, the park will have a new addition —a memorial dedicated to Clarence "Big House" Gaines, who Hamilton knew.

"It’s really well-overdue he get one," Hamilton said.

Gaines was a Paducah native and the first African American inducted into the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame as a coach.

"He had over 800 wins in college basketball, and not very many coaches out there have that recognition," Thompson said.

The other monument in the works for Paducah will be dedicated to people who served our country fighting the global war on terrorism. It will stand among three other war memorials in the Dolly McNutt Memorial Plaza.

Thompson said a monument committee he oversees has received requests for a new monument about four times in the past five years. "Every one is important to the people who submit it," Thompson said.

"To this point, I haven’t seen one that hadn’t been a good idea," Thompson said.

If the groups submitting requests have details set up — such as location, design and funding — the committee can approve them and send them to city commissioners.

The memorials are a way of preserving the history of the town loved by Hamilton and others who live there.

Now that the city has approved the monuments, construction can begin.

It’s up to the groups who propose the monuments to raise the money for them. The city and McCracken County have made donations for the war memorial. The monument to Big House Gaines received local and out-of-state donations.

Thompson says the Global War on Terror Memorial will hopefully be complete by Veterans Day. The goal is to have the Big House Gaines memorial complete by Aug. 7, when the NAACP plans to unveil it.

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