Stone World

War monument etched in stone

November 1, 2005


On August 27, 2005, approximately 350 people gathered at the Oncenter Complex in Syracuse, NY, for the highly emotional unveiling of the first U.S.-located monument honoring World War II minority veterans of Onondaga County. The Wall of Honor, which measures 16 feet long x 8 feet high, is made from Absolute Black granite.

The goal of the project was to design a monument to honor the names of forgotten African, Native, Latino and Asian Pacific Americans who contributed to the World War II allied victory, as requested by the steering committee for the Onondaga County Wall of Honor. Although other types of granite were considered, Absolute Black was ultimately selected for its consistent tight grain structure and for the contrast it provides after the material is laser-etched, according to Graphic Designer Joe Ford from Picture This on Granite of Stanstead, Québec, Canada - the company responsible for laser-etching the veterans names onto the Wall of Honor. The material was supplied by Manufacturers Marketing Inc. of Westfield, IN.

Architect Peter Crissey of Crissey Architectural Group in Syracuse, NY, volunteered his services for the project. Crissey, who is also an architectural professor, held a competition with his students, and Sudeshna Sukla won for her design concept of the Wall of Honor, which called for inscriptions of the veteran's names into large granite slabs. Picture This on Granite reworked the concept, along with assistance from Onondaga County Legislator Lovie L. Winslow, until the final plan was conceived and agreed upon. Another important objective of the project was that the names of the veterans and detailed military logos needed to be clearly visible on the Wall of Honor, both possible with laser etching by Picture This on Granite.

The etching contractor also came up with a practical solution for the weight issues associated with the monument. Although Sukla designed a substantial-looking monument, floor loadbearing was a concern for the interior application. According to Ford, Picture This on Granite suggested that they use what the company refers to as “Lite Rock” panels, because they are light in weight and ideal for indoor applications. The granite panels, supplied by Manufacturers Marketing Inc., are 11 mm thick and only weigh around four pounds per square foot, for a total project weight of 1,200 pounds. The granite is epoxied to a fiberglass backing material, making it much stronger, lighter and easier to install.

According to Ford, the entire project was pre-assembled at Picture This on Granite's facility on a steel frame that was designed to support and display the monument. After the pre-assembled steel frame and granite panels were transported to the jobsite, the installation process began. “The steel frame was first leveled and then bolted to the Oncenter walls and floor,” Ford explained. “The two installers, Norm LaPenna and Mike Lang, [from Dominion Granite & Marble LLC] slid the granite panels into the angle iron steel frame that secured the panels into position. The panels were then spot bonded with an Akemi high-strength epoxy adhesive for additional security. The joints were filled and smoothed over to provide a flush solid appearance. Finally the top, corners and baseboard were capped with a 3⁄4-inch-thick black granite trim for strength, protection and to provide a finished look.”

In total, 12 workers from Picture This on Granite and supporting companies were involved with the project. Dominion Granite & Marble LLC of Ashburn, VA, installed the granite panels, while C. Rouleau Granit Inc. of Stanstead, Québec, Canada, assisted with the fabrication and polishing of the granite, and Genesis Trading of Ogden, Québec, Canada, was in charge of the steel framework.

A total of 200 square feet of granite was used for the monument, which consists of four 4- x 8-foot panels and three 3- x 8-foot panels. The Absolute Black panels were highly polished and then laser-etched with around 250 veterans names and four military logos using an L10 Lasermaster from CamTech Industries of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “The high-definition laser-etching process removes the polish from the granite by firing the class four laser at 1,200 dpi,” said Ford. “This leaves behind highly detailed areas in contrast, which are then prepared for hand painting.” He added that high-quality paint with UV protection is applied to the area in multiple applications, which allows the granite to fully absorb the color and dry naturally to ensure maximum penetration. The surface is then again sealed to provide additional protection.

Ford said that the biggest challenge was trying to get all the proper information for the job in a timely manner. The crew had to make sure all names were spelled properly and listed in alphabetical order, and they had to know which military branch each individual served under so that a final layout could be approved.

Construction on the monument began in June 2005 and was completed on August 23, just days before the Wall of Honor dedication ceremony took place. All those who attended the unveiling declared the monument a great success, according to Ford.

“Legislator Winslow was the key to this whole project,” said Ford. “She is the one who brought this idea to life. Nobody thought it would ever get off the ground.”

Credit Box

Onondaga County World War II Minority Veteran Wall of Honor
Oncenter Complex
Syracuse, NY

Architect: Crissey Architectural Group, Syracuse, NY
Monument Designer: Sudeshna Sukla
Laser-etching: Picture This on Granite, Stanstead, Québec, Canada
Laser-etching machinery: CamTech Industries, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Stone Installer: Dominion Granite & Marble LLC, Ashburn, VA
Stone Fabricator: C. Rouleau Granit Inc., Stanstead, Québec, Canada
Stone Supplier: Manufacturers Marketing Inc., Westfield, IN