COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Nearly two years after the Veterans Memorial building in Franklinton was torn down, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum is starting to take shape.

Crews have been hard at work on the structure since December 2015. It’s expected to open in July 2018.

“We’ve got 22 million veterans living in the country right now and we need to tell their stories and that’s what this museum is going to do,” said chief operating officer of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) Amy Taylor. “We envision this to be a place for reunions, for coming home ceremonies, for wreath laying ceremonies and we’ve even gotten military wedding calls.”

The CDDC said it’s a 50,000 sq. ft. building, with 30,000 sq. ft. available for exhibit space.

“We want this to be a home for all veterans and a pilgrimage for veterans around the country,” said Taylor.

The exhibits will be dynamic and interactive, with historical artifacts, letters, photos, personal effects and multi-media presentations.

“We’ve got interviews and films and narratives. This isn’t a war memorial or a military museum. It really is that place where we’re going to learn the stories of veterans and how their sacrifices allowed us to live free,” said Taylor. “We really are the home of the free because of the brave.”

Colonel Tom Moe served our country in the military for 33 years. He said the museum is a way to properly honor our veterans and their sacrifices.

“This is a fantastic building, quality, unbelievable architecture to properly honor our veterans and to memorialize those who never got to leave military service and enjoy the freedoms and the peace that they served and guaranteed for all of us,” said Col. Moe. “It’s tremendous memorial. It’s going to be a great museum, artifacts, places to contemplate to remember our fallen men and women and to contemplate the service of veterans after they served.”

Beside the museum is a 2.5-acre memorial grove meant for reflection and remembrance.

“It’s an icon for Ohio, for Columbus,” said Col. Moe. “We’re going to love it. I’m loving it already.”

Project superintendent Jeff Patrick is one of 27 veterans working on the construction site. He spent 23 years in the U.S. Navy, 12 of those years he spent away from his family.

He hopes the museum helps people understand what the armed forces do.

“My children were teenagers before I spent any time with them and a lot of veterans go through that and I just don’t think people out here in the civilian sector realize that sacrifice that not only the military people make but their families also,” said Patrick.

Taylor said the CDDC raised $75 million to build the museum.

“We’re still working on raising money for an endowment because the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation believes we want it to look as great in year 20 as it does on day one,” she said.