RICHMOND, VA - Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the single largest donation, to date, has been given to the Virginia War Memorial Foundation, during a multi-million dollar expansion project.
Philanthropist and World War II Veteran C. Kenneth Wright, 93, donated $5 million to the foundation, seeing the importance of preserving the stories of fellow soldiers.
“Unfortunately, for soldiers that had gone down, they had been neglected before,” Wright said.
The gift comes during a busy time at the memorial. Construction crews were outside in the heat, working on the new addition which includes an educational center, the Shrine of Memory and an underground parking deck. The General Assembly allocated $28 million for the project, breaking ground in June of 2017.
Because of the donation, the new addition to the memorial will also be named after Wright.
“Mr. Wright, I cannot tell you how grateful we are, for your service, for your philanthropy and for the fact that you are here with us today,” Gov. Ralph Northam said.
Wright has a history of giving. After selling his Rent-A-Car Company in 1999 Wright has been giving back around the Richmond-area, including Virginia Commonwealth University and the Downtown Richmond YMCA. This donation to the Virginia War Memorial, Wright says, was seemed like the “right thing to do.”
The Executive Director of the Virginia War Memorial, Rear Admiral John Hekman, says money will be used to help with the endowment and other capital campaign projects once the new addition is complete.
“The education efforts that we have here to be able to pass these stories forward to the children of future generations,” he added.
Officials hope to have construction finished by this time next year.