OCTOBER 8, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CDT
POCAHONTAS, AR -- Hundreds of Pocahontas residents lined the grounds of the county courthouse to honor their town, 150 years in the making. But also to remember those who have made Pocahontas what it is today.
"The importance of rural, small town America, Pocahontas exemplifies that. It exemplifies the ideals and beliefs that our country was founded on and it's right here," says Mayor Gary Crocker, of the City of Pocahontas.
Over 2 years of planning went into the Veterans Memorial that was unveiled for the first time. Three bronze statues stand over bricks full of the names of Randolph County servicemen and women from all branches of the military. Over 98 percent of the funding for this veterans memorial came from private donors within the community, something that just shows how much pride these people take in their town and their country.
"I spent 34 years in the Army and I spent many of my leaves and vacations here and they've always been very supportive and this is just another example of the dedication of this city and county to people who have served in the Armed Forces," says Col. Jesse Johnson, a retired U.S. Army Officer.
Col. Johnson says he recalls the lack of support that the Vietnam Veterans received during a time when our country was divided, but even then, he says the people of Pocahontas and Randolph County stood by the military, just as they do today.
"Whether you support the war or not, whether you support the president's decisions or not, you still need to support the men and women who where the uniform and they do that, that's the message I wanted to bring to them today," says Col. Johnson.
The Veterans Memorial Ceremony was the final event held during the 3 week long celebration. Mayor Crocker says they hope to send a lasting message to the community for generations to come.
"Without the dedication and efforts of all those fellows, all the people, all the men and women that give of their time, give their lives, without that commitment we wouldn't be standing here celebrating anything and it's due to the efforts of those folks that we are able to do that," says Mayor Crocker.