SMITHFIELD – Jefferson County veterans gathered on Saturday to dedicate an eight-year memorial wall.
A crowd of about 100 gathered at the Fort Friendship Military Park to remember the sacrifices each of the bricks represent.
“I was told that when this project started they expected (around) 90 names. “ Retired Marine Sgt. Jack Ernest, the keynote speaker, said. “Today, as we stand here watching this magnificent labor of love and dedication, we can easily (see) an impressive 888 names (on this one).”
Ernest pointed out that each name inscribed on a brick represented an individual who had answered the call to defend his country.
“Because of this fact, you and I can stand here in freedom, (at) this very moment,” he said. “Many of us gathered here today have done exactly the same thing; it’s called “Americanism”, patriotism. It’s much bigger than us. This is who we are as a nation.
“If their voices could scream, I’m sure we would hear, ‘and I would.'”
Even though the memorial is dedicated in their honor, Ernest said he was reminding “This freedom is not free and it will always require bloodshed.”
Jefferson County Commission Tom Graham said the memorial serves to “Keep alive the memory of men and women ready to die” for their country.
“The names on the wall should remind us of the sacrifice the veterans have made for us,” he said afterwards. “We are the land of the free because we are the house of the brave. “
US Representative Bill Johnson R- Marietta said the monument “Is an example of Small Town USA honoring theirs. “
“This is how it used to work” Johnson said. “I’m happy to see it still works that way in Jefferson County. The community came together to do it.
Frank Santa, commanding officer of the Jefferson County Veterans Association, thanked those who attended the ceremony, “especially those who have sat in the drizzle with their umbrellas, patiently waiting (for this to end).”