AUGUSTA, AR (KAIT) – People packed onto the front lawn of the Woodruff County Courthouse in Augusta on Saturday.
The crowd gathered to attend a dedication ceremony for a new memorial, which lists every local man and woman who has served in the military.
"This wall has people's names on it that predate the Battle of Gettysburg and as recent as Operation Enduring Freedom," Michael John Gray said.
Gray and several others set out five years ago to build a veterans memorial somewhere in Woodruff County so that people could remember those who fought to protect the county and the country. They approached the quorum court, whose members approved plans to build a memorial in front of the county courthouse.
Residents raised money and donated in-kind support and labor to complete the memorial, which the public got its first official look at Saturday. People crowded into the recently-constructed courtyard to search etchings on the stone gray-colored panels to find names of both living and deceased veterans.
"This is something special to show back how much we respect them for the efforts they gave for our country," said Charles Dallas, the Woodruff County judge. "For a county our size to do this, to make it look this good, I take great pride and honor in what the county was able to do."
The memorial, however, will likely never near completion, as the architects left several panels blank to fill in the future.
"Other sons and daughters of our county that go and serve our country will have their named etched on the stone and then build continuously," Dallas said.
Veterans like Robert Daniel hope future generations visit the wall and appreciate the service of the men and women listed there.
"It's an honor to be able to step up to the plate and say, yes, I did my part and now pass it onto the others," Daniel said. "It's time to serve for the younger generation, and they have. They stepped up admirably to serve this great country of ours."
Neighbors have started to collect even more money to help pay for the memorial's upkeep and maintenance. Several local veterans and their families have compiled their stories in a book, with some of the proceeds being set aside for the wall.