Proposed renovations at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Joel Convention Center could look totally different in a couple years.

Lawmakers are proposing a bill to overhaul the Veterans Memorial at the front entrance.

“It’s an improvement, it’s really an improvement. I’m glad to see it,” said Walter Emery, 82.

Emery is a voice for the veterans in Winston-Salem.

Friday, he learned of the major face lift proposed to change the main entry to the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

It will include an oversized statue for Sgt. Lawrence Joel inside the Medal of Honor Hall.

Like Joel, Emery served in the Vietnam war.

“I don’t have my jacket with the other patches on it. I’m part of the 173rd so I know what the 173rd did,” Emery said.

Outside will be the veterans plaza. There will be five other statues, each representing a branch of the military.

The Joel center is a point of pride for veterans and their families.

Especially the nearly 500 cement memorial pillars jetting up from the ground out front.

Each features the name of someone from Forsyth County who died serving the country.

It’s the center for the service Emery leads every year on Memorial Day.

“We lower the flags to half and every stone that has a name on it we put a 3 by 5 flag,” he said.

The memorials would be replaced by a granite monument, engraved with all of the names.

The plan as stated in a press release by Wake Forest is to revitalize the front as a place for reflection and remembrance.

“It’s going to be quite an undertaking,” Emery said.

And its one Emery hopes passes through legislation.

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