Rep. Marion Berry said the American Veterans Memorial in Ash Flat is proof that people can work together for one united goal.
"The greatest thing on earth is people coming together for the common good," he said at the memorial dedication in Ash Flat on the eve of Veterans Day. "I am so proud of this community for the wonderful job you have done."
Berry said it is essential that Americans not only remember those who have served but also those who are currently serving our country on the battlefield.
Despite the wet weather, more than 400 area residents and business leaders attended the dedication ceremony on Nix Ridge Road. Berry said the drizzle during the ceremony was fitting.
"Many of our soldiers did a lot of work in the rain and didn't have an umbrella," he said.
Berry, a keynote speaker at the dedication, was joined by Vietnam veteran and author Douglas M. Todd, state Sen. Paul Miller, and members of the American Veterans Memorial Committee for the ceremony that lasted more than an hour.
Co-chairman of the committee, Ash Flat Mayor Brien Nix Hall, said the memorial cost more than $350,000 and is a tribute to all veterans who need to be remembered and thanked not just on Veterans Day but every day.
He said veterans are to be remembered each time you read a newspaper, make a decision on your own and vote.
"Celebrate your freedom. God bless America and all of the American veterans," Hall said. "It is because of you that we're here."
Todd said each veteran is a defender of the cornerstone of our nation -- the Declaration of Independence.
"No good thing is achieved without risk," he said. "All gave some and some gave all. They gave us this land of the free and home of the brave."
Since the dedication the city of Ash Flat has assumed maintenance of the memorial. Surveillance cameras have been purchased to monitor activity and prevent vandalism, Hall said.
The memorial was designed by Leonard Holden Jr., co-chairman of the committee and a Korean War veteran of Hardy, in 2004. By June of that year the location for the tribute had moved from Hardy to the Ash Flat Park.
Fundraising began immediately and groundwork began in December. Because of donations, the sale of bricks honoring individual veterans and the committee's hard work, the memorial doubled in size from Holden's original plans.
The memorial includes curved walls, granite slabs, bronze statues, flags from each branch of the military, original military equipment and a fountain. The memorial pays homage to those killed in action, missing in action, prisoners of war and those who received Purple Hearts. There is also room for 2,700 total bricks honoring individual soldiers past and present.
To purchase bricks, anyone interested can contact City Hall at 870-994-7324.