Several years ago, the City Council officially gave the name of Veterans’ Memorial Park to the south parkland laid out in 1909 by town founder, T.W. Patterson, Ron Swift, scoutmaster of Troop 82, announced during the ceremony. However, the park with a new name was never officially dedicated, said Swift. Swift then took it upon himself, and his troop, to clean up the site where a memorial plaque honoring 40 veterans would be displayed for the public.
“Better late than never,” Swift said to the crowd.
According to Troop 82 member, Robert “Tank” Giusepoi Jr., the boys had spent four weekends trimming, painting, and improving the park’s appearance for the ceremony.
“It was a lot of work, but we had a good time doing it,” said Giusepoi.
New plaques will be installed, including one that lists the names of 40 Patterson area military veterans who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam War and war on terrorism, he added.
Although Swift is not a veteran himself, he said, “I’ve always had a soft spot for those who have served.”
The Boy Scouts and the American Heritage Girls kicked-off the ceremony by honoring each military branch before posting their colors and leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Veterans in the audience were encouraged to stand once they heard their branches’ anthem.
Several community speakers, including former city councilwoman Annette Smith, scoutmaster Ron Swift and American Legion Post Commander Amy Hussar, led a community salute to the American flag and the veterans who served under it.
Mayor Luis Molina also sang the national anthem amid a small crowd of spectators, which garnered patriotic pride and swelling tears from many community members.
The ceremony was presented just a day after the country’s national Flag Day. In honor of the American Flag, Hussar gave a speech about the flag’s history and connotation.
“I challenge all of you to think about what this flag means to you,” she said shortly after the lesson.
The yellow ribbon tied around the flag post and memorial plaque also held symbolic references, according to Smith.
“The yellow ribbon represents people still missing in action and prisoners of war today,” said Smith. “The park is dedicated to the guardians of peace, our heroes of foreign wars. They are the strength of America; they are the few who defended many, the selfless that keep us free. Their service does not go unnoticed; their sacrifice remains fresh in our memories, their stories in our hearts.”
Eagle Scout Matthew Long capped-off the ceremony playing Taps to commemorate those who have died for our country.
“We had a great turnout,” said Smith. “It was a beautiful ceremony.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org