AVON — What started in 2009 as an idea to honor veterans and particularly those of the World War II era culminated this past Saturday with a dedication ceremony to celebrate the memorial park’s completion.
Hundreds turned out on an overcast day to watch the dedication, which concluded with WW II veteran, Avon resident, and Ben Davis High School graduate Brigadier Gen. Clyde “Chet” Wright placing a wreath at the statue that was modeled after his likeness as a representative of a soldier from that generation.
Wright served in the 139th Field Artillery Battalion, 38th Infantry Division, and also is a member of the memorial committee.
The ceremony began with the Avon High School Jazz Band playing military themed songs and included three soldiers reading Letters To Home from soldiers who fought in WW II.
Young and old participated in honoring veterans, as Ty Roman, a student at nearby Pine Tree Elementary School, read the State of Indiana Proclamation.
U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita was also in attendance, presenting the Congressional Record to mark the importance of the park in American historical lexicon.
“(The Congressional Record) is where we record the most important things, most important debates, most important events of this country since its founding,” he said. “It is my sincere hope that this memorial will properly honor the bravery and sacrificial service of our World War II veterans. May it serve as a daily reminder to all who pass it of the sacrifice that is required to secure this freedom known throughout the world as America, the land of liberty. May it fortify the resolve of this current generation to be vigilant, to preserve and protect it at all costs.
Brigadier Gen. Brian Copes noted that there are about 1.5 million men and women currently serving in the military.
“That comes out to about one-half of 1 percent of the American population that wear the uniform,” he said. “Never in our nation’s history have so many been defended by so few. Though the world may badmouth us or have their own points of contention, when the world gets in trouble, they look for us to help them.
“Thank you to the town of Avon, the visionaries who envisioned this memorial and placed it next to the school where the young people can go by it every day and be reminded of it. Chet is someone that these young people can put a face to and say ‘this is somebody from my hometown.’”
Dennis Dawes served as the emcee for the event and said, “It’s an honor to dedicate this memorial to our World War II veterans and their generations. All veterans, we need to recognize and thank them for their service.”
Wright, who was born in Indianapolis in 1918, saw current Wayne Township Superintended Dr. Jeff Butts speak about what he means still today to young students.
“His picture hangs proudly in his uniform on our hall forever,” Butts said. “Each and every day, we have the opportunity to work with our young children. We are extremely proud that many of our students learn about the armed service through our JROTC program, and that many make the decision to protect our borders and provide us with freedom. Chet Wright is a distinguished alumni of Ben Davis High School and always will be.”
Rokita added, “In Avon today, all citizens enjoy the blessings of liberty, secured by veterans like Brigadier Gen. Wright.”
Copes offered, “I’m so pleased with the turnout today to recognize the elder statesmen of The Greatest Generation, down to some young folks who may be gaining their first appreciation of what military service is about, what the sacrifice associated with it is all about, and the honor that is due to the veterans who have served so well and faithfully in protecting the security of this nation.”
Hoosier sculptor Bill Wolfe and his grandson, Cooper William Wolfe, whom Bill said was one of Avon’s newest residents, helped pull the cover off of the 5-foot, 16,000 pound granite base statue in the center of the park to abundant cheers.