Gusty winds did little to deter the spirit of pride and recognition of our nation’s veterans Saturday.
The annual Navarro County Veteran’s Day program held at the courthouse found veterans from several wars in attendance, and a program of remembrances from coordinator Tim Easley, who was hosting his final ceremony.
Easley spoke of the beginnings of the planning for the Navarro County War Memorial with a meeting held in August of the year 2000. That meeting, he said, “started a fire” to get the project done.
“Twenty-eight months later, we dedicated the memorial,” he said, one that contains the names of Navarro County soldiers who have died in service to their country, from World War 1 through the War on Terror.
Easley credited several people and organizations with helping to establish the memorial, requiring hundreds of hours of research to document the names of the men and women on the walls of the war memorial.
“Poor is the nation that has no heroes — shameful is the nation that forgets them,” Easley said, attributing the phrase to an unknown author.
Easley mentioned several people who had influenced his life during his years working with the monument and the celebration — among them, Jay Fondren, the late Jessie Cummings, Bob Frisby, Joe Borsellino, Joe Hambrick, and Charles Harrison — and how knowing them had changed his life.
“They carry the scars of their service,” he said.
Fondren, who spoke at the event several years ago, lost both his legs in service to the country, and now works as a counselor with the Veteran’s Administration, helping other veterans get their benefits.
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to know these men ... I’ll never forget them.”
Easley also recalled the realization that a new memorial section would have to be included in the original plan — one honoring the victims of the War on Terror.
“I prayed we’d never have to put a name on there,” he said.
One name — that of Cpl. William O’Brien of Rice — is etched on the courthouse monument.
Easley paid tribute to all veterans in attendance, with representatives of each conflict from World War II through Iraq and Afghanistan in attendance Saturday.
The twice-yearly ceremonies at the Navarro County War Memorial — at Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day — will continue, but Saturday was Easley’s final day to organize them.
“This is the end of a chapter in my life that I’ll never forget ... it’s been a great honor.”
A gallery of photos from the event is available on our Facebook page.