ST. GEORGE – A park honoring veterans past and present will be dedicated in SunRiver on Veterans Day.
Among the many events taking place on Nov. 11, local veterans will come together in the SunRiver community to dedicate the Veterans Honor Park.
A choir from Snow Canyon High School will be providing prelude music at 9:40 a.m. as people gather for the 10 a.m. commencement of the dedication ceremony. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group will ride into the park, officially opening the event.
Tom Cover, the chairman of the committee that oversaw the creation and fundraising for the Veterans Honor Park, will give a short speech, followed by special guest speaker Mayor Dan McArthur.
After the Mayor, the colors will be posted and the Nation Anthem will be sung.
At 11 a.m. seven flags will be raised on 35-foot-high poles, starting from right to left. The flags of each US military branch – Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corp, Merchant Marines and Navy – will be flown. In the center of the flags will be the American Flag, with the iconic black-and-white Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag raised under it.
Songs of each branch of the armed forces will then be sung, and a prayer will conclude the dedication.
Not a memorial park
Bill Toole, a former marine and member of the committee chaired by Cover, expressly stated that the new honor park was “not a memorial park.”
The park is a place where soldiers both deceased and living could by honored be family and friends, or a place where veterans could come and reflect on their own service, Toole said.
One way that family, friends, and those in military service could commemorate a soldier was by purchasing a special brick on which a person’s name could be engraved. Once engraved, the brick could be placed in the park along with numerous others purchased by park donors.
Toole remarked that some veterans he knew “put the name of a buddy that saved their lives” on a brick.
Bricks can be purchased for $230.
Toole said he had a brick with his father’s name in the park. Toole’s father was a veteran of World War I.
“It’s a Veterans honor park,” Toole said, “The name says it all.”
How It Started
It started out as a simple idea: place a flagpole or two in a park in SunRiver and fly flags in honor of veterans of the US armed forces. However, once neighbors like Tom Cover and others got involved, a tribute to soldiers both deceased and living grew beyond a couple of flags.
“Either do it right, or not at all,” Cover said.
Cover, also a former marine, said it had been a year since the initial idea for the Veterans Honor Park started. During that time, Cover would become the chairman of the committee overseeing the honor park’s creation.
Since the project’s inception, Cover said his committee was able to raise $69,000 for the park.
He added that a part of that came from 260 families that bought commemorative bricks for engraving.
Cover said he was happy that the funds raised for the Veterans Honor Park were entirely local.
“This has been done right here,” he said.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the park was held on July.4, with the Veterans Day dedication bringing the period of construction and preparation to an official end.
– Veterans Coalition of Southern Utah
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