A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame the result of the dedication of Florence native H.B. Deatherage

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

H.B. Deatherage took it one step further.

An Act – approved May 13, 1938 — made November 11 each year a legal holiday, a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be known as “Armistice Day.”

In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.”

(Photo form KVHOF)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954.

Yet it took some 56 years – and the foresight of one H.B. Deatherage – to form the 501(c)(3) Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame.

“We were established in January 2010,” Deatherage told the Northern Kentucky Tribune, “Since such a foundation didn’t exist in the Commonwealth.”

In the Spring of 2012, a proposed bill submitted to the Kentucky Senate was passed unanimously. “We now have the support of veterans organizations and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs,” he said.

Deatherage is the Founder and Executive Director of the organization – established in 2014 – and when asked why he created the Hall, all he said was: “There wasn’t one in Kentucky.”

And there were only three in the entire nation.

You can call H.B. Deatherage a visionary. After a tour in Vietnam, the now 78-year-old Florence native — and resident — built the Veterans Memorial in the city.

In 1995, he won the approval of the city to erect the monument on 44 city-owned acres on Ewing Boulevard.

“The memorial,” Deatherage said, “Is for everyone who wants to pause and ‘pay homage to the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who were killed in the line of duty.’”

The finishing touches to the monument were dedicated for the Memorial Day ceremony in May 2011, when the POW/MIA monument was dedicated on the Boone County Veterans Memorial site.

The Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame recognizes the efforts of Kentucky’s distinguished men and women who have worn the uniform of our nation’s armed forces and were then honorably discharged.

H.B. Deatherage

“Our honorees include some of Kentucky’s most recognized citizens, Deatherage said, “as well as some whose dedicated service has gone unnoticed,”

As for Deatherage, he fought his own battle in creating the prestigious Hall of Fame.

“I went begging for funds,” he admitted. “We now have an operation of over $100,000 a year – all with volunteers.”

Since that very first class was inducted in 2014, over 220 veterans have been inducted into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame.

“The program,” Deatherage said, “is not intended to focus on what Kentucky military members accomplished while in uniform, but rather what has occurred in their lives outside of and beyond their military service.”

Lexington has been named the host city for the KVHOF Induction Ceremonies through 2023.

“To be nominated is a great honor,” Deatherage said. “Selection into the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame is an outstanding distinction. The program sets a lofty standard for recognizing the contributions of Kentucky military veterans.”

Today we remember our veterans. Thanks to H.B. Deatherage, we remember them in the Commonwealth daily.

Nominate deserving veterans. From the KVHOF website, download a nomination form and guidelines. Visit www.kyveterans.org heading nomination form.

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