“Freedom truly is not free, and we honor those who have paid the ultimate price,” said Councilman Bill Lusk, a Vietnam veteran.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was retired Air Force Col. Robert G. Certain, a Vietnam War veteran and an ordained priest who served as a military chaplain and led the memorial and burial services of former President Gerald Ford in 2006.
“It is the men and women of our armed and uniformed services who have made us and keep us free through the years,” Certain said. “It is to them that we owe a debt of gratitude for the past and a debt of commitment to the future. Because their lives ended, we must live more meaningful lives.” Mayor Joe Lockwood, in his Memorial Day proclamation, said, “We … remember the more than one million Americans who have died to preserve our freedom and more than 140,000 citizens who were prisoners of war and all those who were declared missing in action. We also honor our veterans for their dedication to America and their sacrifice.”
Lockwood said the city’s newest park was a fitting place to hold the ceremony. Freedom Park, which opened on Veterans Day last November, has patriotic ties. There is a plaza with flags representing each branch of the military and a flag for military personnel who were prisoners of war or missing in action. The one-acre triangular park at the corner of Deerfield Parkway and Webb Road also includes a peace pole with the phrase “may peace prevail on Earth” in several different languages.
In honor of Memorial Day, 386 white cross markers with American flags were posted along the outskirts of the park and along Deerfield Parkway and in Crabapple. The markers displayed the names of deceased military service men and women who either hailed from Milton or whose families currently live in the city.
“The white crosses lining the roads here help us remember the great sacrifices they made,” said Rev. Col. Paul L. Doppel, who delivered the invocation and benediction.
The names of the fallen veterans were read aloud as part of Monday’s ceremony.