In remembrance: Patriots Memorial Park dedicated

In remembrance: Patriots Memorial Park dedicated

Story by Donna Thornton

Donna Thornton  | Times-Journal

Monuments to veterans from conflicts since World War I were unveiled at Patriots Memorial Park Monday. In addition to the monuments, there will be story board with a QR code to allow visitors to learn more when they visit the park. 

Morning storms Monday gave way to sunny skies for the afternoon dedication of Fort Payne’s Patriots Memorial Park, and a large number of people assembled to honor veterans on the day set aside for those who’ve fallen in combat.

Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine welcomed the crowd and spoke of the years of work that have gone into the memorial. He introduced former Mayor Larry Chesser and invited former Mayor Bill Jordan – who started the city on its path to establishing the park – to speak about its origins.

He spoke of being approached about the possibility of a park honoring veterans and fallen service members.

At the time, Jordan said, the City of Fort Payne was developing its city park and had some federal funds that could be contributed. The property where Patriots Memorial Park is located was purchased, he said, and deeded to the DeKalb County VFW.

From that, work continued and the park has become what it is today, with the dedication of monuments not only to veterans of conflicts since World War I, but also to first responders and those who’ve fallen in combat.

Guest speaker Rear Admiral W. Kent Davis, USN (Retired), who serves as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, addressed those gathered.

The crowd filled seats under a large tent, and even more people stood to hear the remarks and to witness the unveiling of the monuments around the park's central display of flags

Davis called the park a “stunningly beautiful sight,” and added that seeing so many people present to recognized veterans was “equally beautiful.”

He encouraged those who want to thank a veteran to put aside their petty differences and think of themselves as Americans, “not members of a particular demographic group,” or adherents to a political belief.

“It you really want to thank a veteran,” Davis said, “be the kind of citizen who is worth fighting for.”

Baine thanked the many sponsors and donors who have supported the Patriots Memorial Park, and he encouraged anyone interested to continue to give or buy pavers or benches at the park. “We’re not done,” he said of the park’s development.

A number of city officials, state lawmakers and veterans attended the ceremony. The Fort Payne High School JROTC presented the colors, and the Mountain Valley Singers entertained with patriotic songs before the unveiling of the monuments.

Patriots Memorial Park board member Charles Stephens, who was one of those who came to Jordan seeking the city's commitment for the park, introduced the guest speaker.

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