Officials pay tribute to the fallen at re-dedication
|AS MEMBERS OF the Bristol VFW Color Guard look on, Gov. John Lynch addresses the crowd at the re-dedication of the Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park in New Hampton Saturday morning. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)|
July 28, 2010NEW HAMPTON—In a quiet, peaceful setting overlooking the Pemigewasset River, just off the beaten path on Route 104 in New Hampton, the Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park provides a living tribute to the courage and sacrifice of those who served in the Asian conflicts.
Since the memorial was originally dedicated 20 years ago, the faithful members of the New Hampton Garden Club have lovingly tended the lilies and lilacs there.
This past weekend, veterans, Bristol and New Hampton Town officials, dignitaries and community members assembled for a solemn ceremony of re-dedication of the Memorial Park, and to celebrate the completion of a year-long project of rejuvenation and renewal of the park by the New Hampton Garden Club and its community partners.
Gov. John Lynch joined State Sen. Deb Reynolds, State Rep. Fran Wendelboe and others for the ceremony of re-dedication and remembrance. He congratulated the members of the Garden Club on their success in creating an "elegant, simple and reflective place of beauty" to honor veterans.
In his remarks, he took the opportunity to especially thank the veterans of the "forgotten wars" for their bravery and service, and to remind those present that in many cases, their sacrifice did not end with the fall of Saigon in 1975, but continues to this day.
"A lot of the veterans from these wars came home and didn't feel particularly appreciated or honored," said Lynch. "We owe them all a debt of gratitude. I am so grateful that this memorial will forever be a statement of our ongoing appreciation for our veterans of Korea and Vietnam. I truly believe that we live in the greatest state in the greatest country in the world, and we have all our veterans to thank for everything that makes New Hampshire so special."
Major Gen. William Reddel, Commander of the New Hampshire National Guard, thanked the Governor for his unflagging support of veterans in the state of New Hampshire. He reminded everyone that approximately 5,000 Americans lost their lives in the Korean conflict, and 83,000 soldiers and sailors lost their lives between 1965 and 1975 in Vietnam.
The POW/MIA flag flying alongside the stars and stripes over the park reminds visitors of those who did not make it home.
"And for the others, we cannot thank you enough," said Reddel. "We cannot say it too many times. Welcome home, Vietnam vets."
The Memorial Park was the inspiration of New Hampton Garden Club (NHGC) members, especially the late Mark F. Kozak, who began the re-design of the garden before his death in November 2009. His wife, Kathleen Kozak, Horticultural Chairperson Rita Glasheen, and NHGC Vice President Priscilla Toshack spearheaded the ambitious project with hard work, fundraising efforts and heroic commitment. Funds and materials were donated for the initiative by business and community partners, including many citizens who gave lovingly in the memory of Mark Kozak.
The New Hampton Public Works crew contributed labor for the renovations, and other donors included Tom Bryant of Landscapes by Tom from Meredith; Belgard Hardscapes of Holbrook, Mass.; Van Berkum Nursery of Deerfield; Sheran's Concrete of Loudon; and Real Green of Meredith.
Volunteers from the New Hampton Garden Club provided the expertise and hard work on this, as well as many other civic beautification projects around the region.
In his prayer of dedication, the New Hampton Community Church's Rev. Scott Mitchell gave thanks for all the volunteers and donors who made the garden renovation project possible.
"They have created a privileged place of beauty overlooking the waters with a view of the mountains, a place to be quiet, and recognize the contributions of our veterans," said Mitchell. "We give thanks for this sacred place that honors the lives and contributions of each person who gave so much to ensure the freedoms we are able to enjoy."