The Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum — commonly referred to as “LJVM” or “the Joel” — is not only home to big events. The property on the corner of University Parkway and Deacon Boulevard bears the name of a Winston-Salem native who received the Medal of Honor. It also pays tribute to Forsyth County natives killed in service to their country.
Who was Lawrence Joel?
Lawrence Joel was born in Winston-Salem in 1928. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 and served as a medic during the Vietnam War. He was wounded during an attack north of Saigon on Nov. 8, 1965, but still managed to administer aid to 13 fellow soldiers over 24 hours. Joel is credited with saving their lives. President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the medal during a ceremony in 1967.
Joel retired from military service in 1973 and died in Winston-Salem in 1984. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In February 1986, the Winston-Salem Board of Alderman voted to name the coliseum in Joel’s honor. Wake Forest University, which purchased the coliseum from the city in 2013, has stayed in touch with the Joel family about future plans for the memorial.
There are nearly 500 permanent markers on the East and West Promenades outside the coliseum. Each one is engraved with the name of a service member from Forsyth County who was killed in the following conflicts:
- World War I
- World War II
- Korean War
- Vietnam War
- Operation Desert Storm
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation Enduring Freedom
When new markers are added, a ceremony is held during a Memorial Day observance in the spring. It happens after the veteran’s military service and birth in Forsyth County have been verified. The Triad Vietnam Veterans Association assists with installing new markers.