Veterans Memorial Dedicated
A momumental, four-year project by the Catlin Lions Club culimated Sunday, July 28, 2002, with the dedication of the Catlin Lions Veterans Memorial.
The memorial, which honors Catlin veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, is located on the grounds of the Catlin Heritage Museum.
Circuit Court Judge Craig DeArmond was keynote speaker for the dedication.
DeArmond said what made the Catlin memorial "so special, and so important" is that it had been three years in the making and did not come about in reaction to the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001.
"This memorial has come about because of people like each of you. People who wanted to do something to memorialize the many local men and women who served and died in the service of their country."
DeArmond praised small town America as "the source of patriotism, loyalty, a sense of duty, and a willingness to sacrifice, if need be, to protect the ideals we were taught as children."
"When there were wars to be fought," DeArmond said, "men and women from small towns all over the Midwest flocked to serve. They came from homes where they were taught right from wrong; where they learned that their word was their bond, and that a real man stood up for his friends."
DeArmond said terrorists have learned, as a result of September 11, that they "will never destroy the willingness of Americans to join together, across all racial, ethnic, religious or social lines to fight for our freedom; to fight for our country, to fight for our way of life.
"You can attack us, but by doing so, you strengthen our resolve, you solidify our unity and you awaken 'the sleeping tiger'," DeArmond said.
DeArmond praised veterans for their service and sacrifice. "They gave their lives, or their time, but they gave much more. They gave us a sense of honor," DeArmond said.
DeArmond has been a judge since 2000. Prior to that he was an assistant states attorney for four years, states attorney for four years and in private legal practice for 12 years.
Judge DeArmond was introduced by Wilbur Dickson, master of ceremonies for the dedication. Dickson described DeArmond as "a friend of the Catlin Lions Club and the veterans of Vermilion County."
Dickson, a former president of the Lions Club, said the Veterans Memorial was the largest project the club had ever undertaken. "It exemplifies what the community of Catlin is capable of doing in grand style!"
Dickson traced the idea for the Veterans Memorial to a World War II memorial which the club erected in the mid 1940s. "Some of you present may remember that memorial located at the site of the present U.S. Post Office," Dickson said.
"In 1998, Lions members Scott Church and Brad Sacre and World War II veteran Jim Jones had numerous informal discussions about the possibility of erecting a replacement memorial.
"Those discussions led to the original blueprint dated June 24, 1999, which was drawn by Kendall Erskine, a veteran and a volunteer," Dickson said.
The clubs annual fish fry and pancake breakfasts over the past three years have been the primary fundraisers.
"Many individuals and companies have volunteered time, equipment and their expertise to make this project a reality," Dickson said.
"Under this monument is more than 30 tandem loads of material including rock, crushed stone, clay, fill gravel and black dirt. There is as much infrastructure below ground as you see above ground. It is a permanent structure built to last!"
Dickson told the crowd there were approximately 530 names of veterans on the monument. Gathering those records represented "nearly a year of extensive research of military records and Vermilion County Courthouse records," he said.
The dedication program was opened with a pledge of allegiance led by World War II Navy veteran Jim Jones, the singing of "God Bless America" led by Steve Liggett and a "Freedom Prayer" invocation by Korean and Vietnam veteran Dan Rose.
A Dedication Choir, directed by Jeanie Church, presented a "Salute to the Armed Forces". Church asked veterans to stand as their service songs were sung. The crowd greeted the standing veterans with applause.
Walt Bott, chaplain of Davis-Busby Post #776, American Legion, conducted the dedication ceremony which included three volleys by a rifle squad. Members of the squad included Ben Wear, John Stump and Wally O'Neil.
Taps was sounded by Aaron Huchel of Oakwood.