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Veterans enjoy Military Memorial Wall dedication

World War II memorial dedicated at ceremony

Posted: September 12, 2015 - 11:31pm
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Columbia County Magistrate Judge and Colonel in the Georgia National Guard Bobby Christine gave the special indroductions during the Columbia County Military Memorial Wall dedication ceremony. Photo by Jim Blaylock  Columbia County Magistrate Judge and Colonel in the Georgia National Guard Bobby Christine gave the special indroductions during the Columbia County Military Memorial Wall dedication ceremony. Photo by Jim Blaylock
Columbia County Magistrate Judge and Colonel in the Georgia National Guard Bobby Christine gave the special indroductions during the Columbia County Military Memorial Wall dedication ceremony. Photo by Jim Blaylock
Columbia County Magistrate Judge and Colonel in the Georgia National Guard Bobby Christine gave the special indroductions during the Columbia County Military Memorial Wall dedication ceremony. Photo by Jim Blaylock

Columbia County Com­mission Chairman Ron Cross was proud as he stood before a crowd of soldiers, military veterans and their families at the dedication of the county’s Military Memorial Wall behind the Columbia County Library in Evans on Tuesday.

“It’s been a longtime desire of mine to have a military memorial that honors the military as well as those who have given their lives for our country,” Cross said. “A facility to honor all who have served in the military.”
Cross said he has childhood memories of the latter days of World War II. He remembers the rationing of sugar, gasoline, rubber and his mother refusing to deal on the black market to get nylon stockings.

“Then, the telegrams started to come in and it changed the entire mood of the (country),” Cross said. “And then you realized who made the greatest sacrifice.”

Since then, he’s paid close attention to military conflicts and respect for those who served in the conflicts, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Iraqi Freedom as well as conflicts in Panama and Kosovo. It was those who served that the wall is designed to honor.

“All the common thread through every one of those was the fact that our military responded,” Cross said. “It didn’t matter if there was a clear-cut objective, if there was a lot of politics involved, even if there was confusion, the military responded. It didn’t matter if our way of life was threatened or if it was to protect a weak nation. Those on the front line responded and those at home responded.

Military uniforms, patches, hats and salutes were common in the large crowd gathered for the ceremony.

Evelyn Walters cheered and yelled, “Go Army,” as the Army theme played and the Army flag was raised. She said she’s a cheerleader for her husband, Roy, a two-year Army veteran of the Vietnam War.

“It is beautiful,” Walters said of the memorial wall. “I love it. I love it. I think it’s fantastic.”

County officials voted last summer to spend $150,000 to construct the memorial, which is more centrally-located than other memorials at the Appling Courthouse and Patriots Park recreation complex. It was completed in the late summer.

The curved brick wall was built in an area carved out of a hill and includes seven flagpoles – one for the U.S. flag and the others for the five branches of military service and the POW/MIA flag.

Each flag was raised as the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band played the theme for each branch.

Lane Williams was one of the few Navy veterans who stood when veterans of each branch were recognized.

“We’re outnumbered by all these Army folks, but that’s OK,” said Williams. “It’s impressive. I’ve been to a number of (military memorials) over the years in different places. But this is just ... it’s for their (service members who died in the line of duty) honor. It really really is. It’s just so moving to see these people that were never really known to most folks around here.”

Two metal plaques attached to the center of the wall list the county’s war dead dating back to the Civil War and a third chronicles the history of Fort Gordon.

“They are vital part of our community and have played a vital role in the defense of our country,” Cross said of Fort Gordon personnel.

A fourth dedication plaque is for families to purchase small plaques to honor their loves ones.

“If you would like to honor someone that you know, a family member, regardless of whether they are here or not, we’d be happy to display their names because this is indeed a military memorial,” Cross said.
Anyone interested in purchasing a $500 plaque can do so by contacting John Paul Stout at (706) 312-7374 or jstout@columbiacountyga.gov.

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