Honoring Shelby County veterans

About 100 people gathered Sunday afternoon at the Shelby County Courthouse to honor the county's veterans. (Reporter photo/Brad Gaskins)

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – About 100 people gathered Sunday afternoon on the Shelby County Courthouse lawn for an hour-long program to honor and recognize the county’s veterans.

Ret. Admiral Clyde Marsh, the current director of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, served as the guest speaker. He encouraged everybody to remember those who are serving or have served in America’s armed forces.

Veterans Day is Friday, Nov. 11.

“I ask you not to forget our active duty men and women in harm’s way, fighting our nation’s wars on distant shores, and our veterans, of who many have the visible and invisible scars of war.”

Marsh then recognized all the veterans in attendance.

“Ten years ago, our nation experienced the tragic events of 9/11, a day when terrorists unsuccessfully tried to break the spirit of our great nation,” he said. “The attacks on our nation, and even the world order itself, gave rise to a fresh appreciation to those in uniform. Since Sept. 11, Americans young and old alike, have turned to our military as a symbolic yet very real source of national strength.”

Marsh made his comments standing in front of the Shelby County war memorial, erected in 1954.

Eldon Erickson, the post commander of American Legion Post 131 who introduced Marsh, first gave a brief history of the war memorial.

Fundraising for the memorial began in 1949, Erickson said. It was dedicated at 3 p.m. on Nov. 11, 1954, in a ceremony attended by 1,000 people. Conrad M. Fowler was in charge of the ceremony.

“The marker initially contained the names of 31 Shelby County citizens who lost their lives in World War I, 72 in World War II and 12 in the Korean War,” he said. “Two more names were added to the World War II section later, bringing that section to 74. Later, 11 names were added from the Vietnam War and placed on the back side (of the monument).

“This memorial was dedicated to the memory of the brave men of Shelby County who gave their lives so freedom and justice would not perish from the earth,” he added.

Bobby Joe Seales, the director of the Shelby County Museum and Archives, and Stacy Walkup, director of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, led the program.

Others participants included Post 131 Chaplain Rev. Vincent Turner, the Vincent and Pelham high school ROTC color guards, and several area Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

Westover’s Edwina Chappell led the music, including the National Anthem, God Bless American, God Bless the USA and In God We Still Trust.