Memorial Day an occasion to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice
Monuments to armed services unveiled at ceremony
The Memorial Day Commemoration and Veteran’s Monument Dedication was held Monday, May 30, Memorial Day. It was a somber reminder of the past and present sacrifices made to preserve the security and freedoms that Americans enjoy.
The Marine Corp League presented the flags and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Several appropriate poem readings followed. County Commissioner, Ronnie Beale reminded everyone that Memorial Day was not just another excuse to take a long holiday, or have a party or a barbecue, but rather, was a day of remembrance and respect. He said that Memorial Day, and what it stood for, “transcends politics, cultural differences, or religion.”
After Beale’s short speech, the Ladies Auxiliary Post 108 presented a red, white and blue memorial wreath and the Franklin High School Band played “On A Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss” as a tribute to the service men and women that have been called to duty as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
A hush fell over the crowd as a squad fired three shots and “Taps” was played in honor of every fallen soldier. The FHS band then played a rousing rendition of the national anthem while the crowd stood and watched as the American flag was raised to full staff.
The second half of the program was the dedication of the monuments, one for each branch of the service. The five monuments are the newest additions to the Veterans Memorial Park. Each monument gives the name of the branch of service, displays its emblem and portrays a single scene which embodies that branch.
For each branch of service, speakers gave background information and why that branch of the service was so important. For the U.S. Army, the speaker was Nat Henry; for the Marines, Tony Studds; for the Navy, Bob Litten; for the Airforce, Neal Reindeau; for the Coast Guard, Chuck Seigel; and for the Merchant Marines, the speaker was Joe Foreman.
One by one, after each man spoke, the song for that branch was played as their flag was raised to full staff and each monument was unveiled. As each song was played, those in the crowd that had served in that particular branch stood and saluted their flag.
Alexei Kazantsev, the Russian artist that created the monuments, as well as the eagle statue at the entrance to the park, said he was very proud to work on this project. “I have been sculpting since I was 18,” Kazantsev said. “When I first walked out here and saw this place, I just started to drool because it was so beautiful.”
As for the art itself, he commented that “sculptures should mean so much more than just a nice piece of art.”
The message Kazantsev was hoping to convey was the sacrifices and to honor them. It was certainly a sacrifice of his time to work on this project. Kazantsev said that just working on the sculptures themselves took all of last winter. Then there was the final setup, not to mention all of the planning and preparation that went into it.
Logan Ashe, a WWII Navy veteran who shot down enemy planes, observed how different things are now compared to how they were then.
War was not a game; it was a messy business. Ashe was very grateful that so many people came out to pay their respects to veterans. In a world like today, he feels that Memorial Day and veterans are slowly being forgotten.
John Wayne once summarized the sentiment of these veterans: “The flag is but a symbol of the world’s greatest nation, and as long as it keeps flying there’s cause for celebration. So, do what you have to do, but always keep in mind: a lot of people believe in peace but there are the other kind. If we want to keep these freedoms we may have to fight again. God forbid, but if we do, let’s always fight to win ... Face the flag, and thank God it’s still there.”