LETART — Letart will be hosting a special tribute to veterans of the Korean War on Memorial Day Weekend this year.
The Freedom’s Never Free Organization will be bringing their Traveling Korean War Memorial to the Letart Community Center and Letart Nature Park for public viewing May 25-26, and the morning of May 27. The event is free to the public, but donations are accepted and appreciated. The community center is connected to Letart Nature Park.
Letart Nature Park representatives Mary Grimm and Marilyn Kearns shared the memorial consists of 19 soldiers walking through a Korean rice paddy with three soldiers off to the side setting up a campfire. They said the memorial has four statistical signs, a sign requesting silence, and a sign reading, “The Forgotten War.” They added barriers surround the memorial, so the public cannot touch the soldiers. Jeannie Phillips-Ball of The Freedom’s Never Free Organization and creator of the memorial commented that several veterans volunteered their time to help with the memorial.
Phillips-Ball said she grew up living on military bases and the military is in her blood. She commented she wants people to see what the cost of freedom really is because so much about history has been forgotten.
“I feel led by the Lord,” said Phillips-Ball about her calling to help bring the memorial to life and to the public.
Phillips-Ball shared that events for Freedom’s Never Free have grown from four-hour events to four-day events. Freedom’s Never Free is a non-profit organization located in Lancaster, Ohio. The mission of the organization is to honor the brave men and women who chose to serve their country and pay the cost of freedom proudly and without complaint.
Grimm shared she works with Phillips-Ball and has been involved with other veteran’s events with her. Grimm said Phillips-Ball knew members of the Letart Nature Park were building a Veteran Wall of Honor at the Letart Community Center to show appreciation to local veterans, so when an opportunity came to secure the Traveling Korean War Memorial, they did.
“We felt it would be a great opportunity to honor all veterans,” said Grimm.
Grimm added, “Letart is a very patriotic community and the Letart Nature Park is a beautiful place to host the memorial.”
Grimm shared the National Guard has helped on different occasions in developing the Letart Nature Park and it seemed like a perfect fit to give back to those who have served their country and Mason County. Kearns said the goal of this event is honoring the veterans and she encourages people to come out for support. Kearns shared the Letart Nature Park is happy for the opportunity to be hosting this event.
“We want to unite and give all veterans the thanks they have always deserved,” said Grimm.
Grimm and Kearns said The Patriot Guard will be planning the route and leading the memorial escort. They shared the Patriot Guard Riders is a 100 percent volunteer, federally registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen military heroes, first responders, and honorably discharged veterans. They said the escort will travel from Lancaster through Pomeroy, Mason, Hartford, New Haven, and ending at Letart.
Kearns said the escort is tentatively scheduled to arrive at the Letart Community Center at approximately 6:30 p.m. on May 24. She stated that volunteers are needed to help set up.
Grimm and Kearns said schools are invited to take advantage of this opportunity and bring out the students to experience the memorial.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.