Archive for Friday, November 12, 1999

HUNDREDS TURN OUT FOR VETERANS MEMORIAL DEDICATION

November 12, 1999

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— About 500 people turned out on Veterans Day for the dedication of Veterans Memorial in Ottawa.

An infantryman during World War II, Warren Milton doesn't take freedom for granted.

"My name could have been could have been up there," he said, raising his right arm toward the Franklin County Veterans Memorial that lists the names of the 210 Franklin County residents killed in World War I, World War II, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

"And the way I see it, I'm standing here tonight because their names are over there. Those men paid for my freedom with their lives."

Milton, 76, was among the 500 people who gathered early Thursday evening near the Franklin County Courthouse for a ceremony in which the memorial was dedicated.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is the best thing that's happened in Franklin County in this century," said Milton, a retired electrician.

Ray Talbott, an Air Force tail gunner during World War II, is a member of the committee that spent the past five years raising $120,000 to build the circular monument, which includes a flag pole and a sidewalk made of bricks that bear the names of area veterans and their military units.

"Ask yourself, 'What would happened to the boys whose names are over there if they hadn't served?' And then stop and think of what they would have gone on to do.

"If you can do that, then I think you can get an idea of what this is all about. These are people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today."

Talbott's brother, Seth, is among those listed on the granite memorial.

"He was a pilot," Talbott said. "Air Force. He was killed during a takeoff. He was in the South Pacific. New Guinea."

Kenny Ledom, an Army veteran who grew up in Ottawa and later spent "about a year in Vietnam between 1969 and 1970," knew most of the 15 men whose names are on the Vietnam portion of the memorial.

"I didn't know all of them," he said. "But " well " I guess I knew too many of them."

Ledom said he'll think about his comrades every time he passes the memorial.

"This memorial is the world to me," he said. "It represents everything I stand for."

During the one-hour ceremony, black balloons were released in conjunction with a tape-recorded reading of the names on the memorial.

Ottawa will play host Saturday to a Veterans Day parade downtown. It starts at 1:30 p.m..

In Lawrence, U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., spoke Thursday afternoon at a veterans appreciation banquet at the Kansas Union. The reception was sponsored by Office of Veterans' Services at Kansas University.

The KU Air Force ROTC commemorated POW/MIAs during a 3:30 p.m. ceremony outside Woodruff Auditorium.

-- Dave Ranney's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail is dranney@ljworld.com.

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