The American Village honors veterans at the dedication of the National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor

Published 4:51 pm Monday, February 17, 2014

By GINNY COOPER / Staff writer 

MONTEVALLO—Veterans, dignitaries and elected officials gathered at the American Village Monday, Feb. 17 for the dedication of the National Veterans Shrine.

The program was filled with moments to honor veterans. The American Village bell was rung in honor of the original 13 colonies, the University of Montevallo Wind Ensemble and University Choir performed “Hymn to the Fallen” and soil from battlegrounds across the world were enshrined beneath the liberty monument.

The National Veterans Shrine is a replica of Philadelphia’s Carpenter’s Hall, the building where the first Continental Congress met. The interior features sculptures and paintings by nationally renowned artists and interactive media, artifacts and exhibits showcasing the service and sacrifice of the American military.

These include digital exhibits featuring the veterans who registered their biographical information and stories in the Register of Honor, a website that presents the “names, photographers and biographies of tens of thousands of veterans, living and dead, who have served our country,” according to the American Village’s website.

United States Senator Jeff Sessions, Congressman Spencer Bachus, Lt. Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard were among the many elected officials present to help dedicate the new National Veterans Shrine and Register of Honor at the American Village.

Sessions emphasized the great sacrifice that the shrine represents, and said that it highlights the “heritage and history of those who served us.”

Former President George W. Bush sent greetings to those gathered at the dedication in a letter read aloud during the ceremony.

“Thank you for your efforts to pay tribute to the brave members of our military who have served freedom’s cause,” Bush wrote.

Many keynote speakers emphasized the importance of the National Veteran’s Shrine as a teaching tool for future generations.

Dr. Cathy Randall, chair of the American Village board of trustees, said the National Veterans Shrine will serve to “reverse the historical illiteracy that is creeping into this country and our generations.”

“This will give young people a clear connection to the fact that freedom is not free,” the Honorable Mary A. Bomar said.