Queen Creek is on track to have its first veterans memorial by November 2023.
Recently, the town council approved letting the Queen Creek Veterans Memorial Foundation build the memorial on a circular part of land next to Community Chambers Building.
The foundation will handle the design and construction of the memorial, as well as pay for it.
The memorial is expected to cost about $350,000, which the foundation plans to pay with individual and corporate donations and by selling personalized pavers that will be placed in the memorial's center.
Derek Zeigler, president of the foundation, first started working on the memorial project when he was taking part in the Queen Creek Citizen Leadership Institute in 2018. The institute helps residents interested in learning how the town works, creating town projects and planning for the town’s future.
“We have to pick a project and I had picked to do a veterans memorial in the town. I presented it to the town council, and everybody was excited about it,” Zeigler said. “I put together a little team of fellow classmates and, as with a lot of things in life, people just kind of started disappearing and before you know it, it was just me left trying to do this, so I kind of shelved it for the time.”
Luckily, a new member of the institute, Chris Moss, picked up the ball and ran with it. Moss is now the foundation’s secretary.
Learn more about Queen Creek’s first veterans memorial.
Name: Derek Zeigler
Business Name: Queen Creek Veterans Memorial Foundation (nonprofit) & Get Some Travel
Town/neighborhood: Queen Creek, Cielo Noche
When and why I moved here: Moved here in February 2016 because it was a growing place and we had just had our daughter so it seemed like a great place to start our family.
What I like most about living here: The fact that there are still open spaces and fields around, so you still feel a little free. I also love the local parks, trail systems and overall “small town” feel that we all talk about.
What I do: I am a man of many hats as those close to me would say. I am employed full time as a Global Operations Manager for T-Mobile, I also own and run a travel company called Get Some Travel, along with being a KC-135 Boom Operator in the Arizona Air National Guard. On top of all of that I am a founder and the current president of the Queen Creek Veterans Memorial Foundation.
Personal background highlights: I hold multiple pilot ratings which I am very proud of. I am also an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. I completed the 2019 Arizona full Ironman which was definitely one of my greatest accomplishments.
Professional background highlights: My military service is one thing that I am extremely proud of, I served five years active duty in the Marine Corps followed by three years reserve. I also spent two years in the Army National Guard as a chaplain's assistant before transitioning over to the Air National Guard.
What I like most about what I do: I will focus on the military and nonprofit for this one because those are very special to me. I love serving in the military because it is my way of giving back to the country and honoring those who served before me and continuing the legacy that they set forth. Honoring those who came before me and paved the path is a task that I take very seriously and continuing to honorably serve allows me to do that. That leads into the Queen Creek Veterans Memorial Foundation where I am trying to create a space to remember and honor all of those men and women who came before me and also continue to honor all of those who will serve in the future and lay the path for generations past them.
What does being nominated for this category mean to you? Of course, it means a great deal to me and my family. I put a lot of time and effort into the military and trying to make my community a better place and you do those things without ever asking for anything in return and if you do ask for something you're doing it for the wrong reason. So, receiving this honor reminds me that I am making an impact and that all the time and sacrifice is appreciated and recognized by others.
What does it mean to be a Queen Creek resident? Forward looking, I think that is the word that comes to mind when I think about someone that lives in Queen Creek. We are always looking forward to the future, new roads, new stores, new parks. With the town being relatively young still we have so much to look forward to and celebrate.
What do you think you bring to the local community that makes it better? What I bring to the local community is a passion for veterans and the military in general. I think that a ton of people in our town support veterans, but I do believe that it is so important to have veterans that are helping veterans. We connect with each other in a different way than we connect with the general public, and it is amazing how that connection transcends war zones, generations and service branches. So, with that passion and my background I hope to continue to build and strengthen the veteran community here in town.
What would you tell people about why it's important to make a difference in Queen Creek? Man, there is so much opportunity to make a difference here in Queen Creek. As I mentioned above, we are growing so much and with growth comes opportunity, whether it’s helping shape the town on a committee, joining a local HOA board or a creating business or charity to meet the needs of the population, the opportunities to make a difference are endless here. And those differences that we make at this early stage in the town will greatly affect all the generations that come behind us.
Changes I'd like to see in this area: I think the biggest change you could call it that I would like to see here locally is for more folks to get involved in local matters. Whether that is attending town council meetings, participating in the amazing Citizen Leadership institute or just going to your neighborhood HOA meetings. If more people got involved in these things, the potential we could unlock could be tremendous. A lot of people think that their voice is not worth hearing or that they never have any good ideas but I have seen some incredible ideas come out of the most shy and quiet people, so I would encourage you all to use your voice on some scale because you probably do have ideas worth hearing.
Favorite community cause & why: Well, this is an easy one. The Queen Creek Veterans Memorial Foundation is my favorite community cause because it is my baby. When I held my colored pencil drawing up in front of the town council a few years ago I was determined to make a veterans memorial here in town happen and with the help of a couple great people we are making that dream come true. Chris, Brittany, Jeremiah, Ed and Brian and myself have put a ton of time and passion into this organization and we are so excited about what we are planning to bring to the town through the organization. Giving people a place in the town center where they can go honor and remember members of our military will be an amazing contribution to the town and its residents for generations to come.
My family: I have been with my wife Olivia for 15 years and we have a 6-year-old daughter whose first home after the hospital was here in Queen Creek. My wife is an oncology nurse at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for the last 10 years. My parents and grandparents also followed us to Queen Creek when we moved here, and my in-laws are also here in Queen Creek. It’s great to have all our family so close!
My interests and hobbies: Working! Just kidding but it seems like I have so much going on that hobbies have fallen to the side most days. I absolutely love to travel, hence owning a Travel Company. Any chance I get to go on a trip I jump on it. Experiencing other cultures and meeting new people is something that brings me great joy and helps make me a better person. I also enjoy flying whenever I can, having my pilot ratings and being able to go up and fly anytime I want is one of my favorite hobbies.
The trait(s) I admire in others: Selflessness, hands down! The world is full of so many people who are just out for themselves. I see it every day. They will try to bring down others to help lift them into the spotlight. People who genuinely care about others and helping build up other people are the most admirable people in my book.
My guiding philosophy: Do right by others and good things will come back to you, basically karma. If you do everything you can to be good to other people, then good things will come back to you.
My advice to today’s youth: Get involved! Much like I said above you have to get out and participate in things, sports, student council, exchange programs whatever it is get out and do things. Education is great and very important, but I will tell you that education without life experience is useless. Learning to work and interact with different people and cultures and how to navigate the challenges that come with that is a skill that will set you far apart from others in life and give you a well-rounded resume!
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