What's next for the Lee Highway and Amnicola memorials? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

What's next for the Lee Highway and Amnicola memorials?

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Since the first flag was placed outside of the Armed Forces Career Center on Lee Highway, many have wondered what will happen to the memorial sites for the five servicemen who lost their lives during July 16th's attack on Chattanooga. 

A volunteer committee put together a plan to preserve the makeshift memorials at Lee Highway and Amnicola Highway.

This weekend will be the last time that the makeshift memorials will be untouched.

A dedication ceremony for a permanent monument at Lee Highway will be on Sunday, one month since the shootings, but it's also when the makeshift memorials will start to be taken down.

"You know we all knew, we all know, at some point this makeshift memorial is going to have to go away it can't stay here forever," said Rebecca Styles, volunteer with Lee Highway Memorial Committee.

People like Styles have been stopping by this memorial at Lee Highway for almost a month, honoring the four Marines and Navy Sailor killed in the July 16th shootings.

The growing memorial brought together a group of strangers (now known as the Lee Highway Memorial Committee) to help plan for what will happen next.

"I think like everybody else in the community I was just heartbroken and what do you do?" Styles said.

First, the group organized a permanent structure to be built outside the Armed Forces Career Center. The memorial includes a flagpole, two benches and five areas for plaques of dedication to the fallen servicemen, police and first responders, and community.
    
Then, volunteers had to decide what to do with the thousands of thoughtful tokens left at the roadside.

"The biggest concern was how do respectfully dismantle the makeshift memorial and make sure the items that have been left behind have been taken the utmost care of."

On Sunday family members of the five shooting victims will get to see the memorials and take as much of the belongings as they want, and all military branches are invited to do the same.
    
What's left will then be split up between the National Medal of Honor Museum in Hixson, local schools and veterans organizations. 

So there will always be a permanent display of the makeshift memorials in town.

"Even though it wasn't anyone that I necessarily knew well, they were people in my community," Styles said, "This happened to all of Chattanooga, not just our military folks."

This same method of dis-mantling the memorial will happen along Amnicola Highway sometime next week, but that property is owned by the city and military. 

There are discussions for a permanent memorial there but no details yet.

"We made the offer to build a memorial out there but again I think they're probably going to build their own," Styles said.

This weekend will really be the public's last chance to see the memorial sites before items are removed and distributed throughout the victim's families and community.
    
The dedication ceremony on Sunday starts at 4 p.m. and will last about an hour an a half,  with a lot of special entertainment including the USMC Band.
    
There will be a limited number of seats available so people are encouraged to bring their own chairs, water and anything else they might need while outside for the ceremony.

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