Anyone passing by Aubrey Veterans Memorial Park will be reminded of something – a memorial for veterans past, present and future.
That memorial, in the front of the park not far from the roadway, was dedicated Saturday afternoon in a ceremony attended by more than 100 people, some of whom were veterans. Local city leaders and residents also attended the ceremony, which included the posting of colors from the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 920 in Denton and the Aubrey High School saxophone quartet playing the national anthem.
Jackie Fuller, president of the Aubrey Historical Society, was the master of ceremonies at the event and said her organization began discussions months ago, as 2017 began, about what the group could do to recognize and celebrate the 160th anniversary of Aubrey’s settlement. The memorial was placed in the park at no expense to the city, and the memorial project is a partnership between the Aubrey Area Museum and Kenneth and Carolyn Wilson.
“We wanted it to be something of lasting value to the community,” Fuller said. “Most ideas were discarded until two of our members, Kenneth and Carolyn Wilson, came to our rescue. They gave us a blank monument with the idea that it be used to benefit the community. Almost immediately, the society decided that it should honor our U.S. military veterans.”
Fuller thanked the Wilsons, the Aubrey City Council for approving the monument’s inclusion in the park and Harold Wilson for determining where the monument would be placed. She thanked others for the role in getting the monument erected.
“May this monument be a constant reminder to those passing by, both now and in future generations, of those who have served and those who now serve to protect our freedoms,” Fuller said.
The Rev. Sam Redfearn from the First Baptist Church in Krugerville led the prayer, explaining that it’s because of veterans who have served the nation that ceremonies such as that on Saturday can be performed.
“Every time we walk past this monument, may we remember this glorious day and what it was all about,” he said.
Guest speaker Larry Brady, an Army veteran who was drafted in 1965 and served until 1991, said veterans gave their lives so that people could celebrate Saturday. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Part of Brady’s speech centered on the young people who died in the battle.
“I have a belief that one of these days when it’s all over, we’ll meet our friends that we lost,” he said. “They’re going to say, ‘What a job well done.’”
Brady spoke briefly about his military experience and said he appreciated the monument’s presence.
“We may forget it sometimes, but by the grace of God Almighty, we’re free, we’ll stay free but we’ll continue to defend the United States of America,” he said. “I’m so glad that this monument is here.”
The monument reminds people of not only the fallen service members, but also those still living among us.
“They can drive here and see this wonderful thing,” he said.
Tom Pugh, 92, one World War II veteran in attendance, has received a notice from the World War II National Museum in New Orleans that his oral history has been selected for inclusion in an exhibition, Fuller said. Pugh, who lives in Denton, served in the Marines.
“This is a permanent exhibit and it will feature the experiences of the American home front, the roles of women and minorities in the war, the internment of Japanese Americans, training at military bases throughout the country and will tell the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the fall of the Philippines,” Fuller said. “The museum is designated by Congress as America’s official World War II museum.”
The dedication ceremony will be June 10, but Pugh said later he would not be able to attend. He did like the memorial that was unveiled on Saturday. About his own military career in World War II, Pugh said he started out at Pearl Harbor and then went to New Zealand, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima, although he quickly noted he did not go ashore in Iwo Jima.
“I was about 1,000 yards off the beach when the flag was raised, so they turned our ship around and sent us back to Guam,” he said.
Pugh was happy to attend Saturday’s ceremony.
“It’s a good bunch of men and women,” he said.
Aubrey City Council member Oscar Pearson, an Army veteran, said the monument was a “great tribute” to veterans.
“It’s amazing what people can do when they come together,” he said.
The council has had discussions about adding a flagpole and lights on the grounds and doing maintenance but action remains pending on the matter until matters related to those additions can be worked out.
Aubrey resident Brad Hines, who did not serve in the military but whose father served in Korea, said he thought the monument was “fantastic.”
“It was a great little ceremony and the fact that it was dedicated during the 150th anniversary of the Aubrey area is pretty special,” he said.
Army Staff Sgt. John Salvatori, who works in an Army recruiting office in Denton, said the monument honors the veterans of the past, inspires current service members and gives hope to future generations.