Caraway Veterans' Monument unveiled
Residents and former residents of Caraway once again showed their patriotism as they braved the heat of Memorial Day 2014 to be present for the unveiling of the Veterans Monument. Etched in stone are over 700 names of men and women from Caraway who have served their country proud in the military service.
The monument went from an idea to a reality in a little over a year as committee members held fund raisers, received donations from supporters, city support, and a GIF grant from the state to complete the project in a little over a year.
Shirley Redding, committee member, said a similar monument in another town sparked the idea and they decided Caraway veterans needed to be recognized. She said it was a joint effort with many people working together to make it happen.
Caraway Mayor Barry Riley welcomed the large crowd that filled the park expressing his appreciation to all of the sponsors and everyone who helped with the project.
He especially thanked the family of the late George and Bertha Meadows who helped make it possible. Mayor Riley presented Garry Meadows and Larry Meadows with tee shirts. Both are Caraway natives.
Larry Meadows and his wife, Lois, now live in Tonganoxie, Kan. They are very active in the VFW and have helped with the placement of other monuments. Meadows serves as post commander for the VFW Post 9271 in Tonganoxie.
Veterans Billy Cribbs, Debra Eubanks, Carl G. Mosby, Eddie Joe Barker and Carl Bragg, members of the Craighead County Veterans Honor Guard, presented the colors at the unveiling. Children from Caraway sang several patriotic songs led by Mrs. Heath Hawkins. Mrs. Hawkins sang the National Anthem.
Mayor Riley introduced speaker Rep. Homer Lenderman. Major General Allen B. Bell was scheduled to speak but was not able to be in Caraway due to a death in his family. Rep. Lenderman recognized Major General Bell speaking of his service and the honors/medals he had received through his military service.
Rep. Lenderman reminded everyone the cost of freedom. He gave statistics of the casualties of each war going back to the Revolutionary War.
"Forgetting this country's history is a mistake," Rep. Lenderman said. "If we don't look back at the sacrifices, history is bound to repeat itself. I hope everyone in the area will come pay their respect at the monument. May God Bless America."
Larry Meadows recognized two young men, Marcos Sheppard and Nicholas Anderson, who will be leaving to serve in the military. He also thanked his brother Garry for working on the monument site on behalf of the family.
"I was 500 miles away," Larry said. "He spent several days here. Lois and have worked on several monuments from coast to coast but this one is special to me. We were in Washington, D.C., for the dedication of the World War II Monument. There were World War II veterans as far as you could see. When I returned home I wrote a poem about the Veterans of Foreign Wars."
He shared the poem:
They fought in battles sometimes long ago.
The memories they have, they can never let go.
The visions so horrible, they will never tell.
They are going to heaven, because they have seen hell.
They work in the community by our side.
Saying very little about their friends who died.
But they will always remember, and it causes great pain.
They would rather work than complain.
They sometimes think back, who was our enemy and why did we kill.
Sometimes it makes them quite ill.
They try not to show, so they smile and do good deeds.
Because they have seen countries that have real needs.
They love their families, community and country
More than you will ever know
So they fly Old Glory to let it show.
When you see these people wearing funny hats
Never forget what made them like that.
They will go to their graves with one thing in mind
They are hoping to leave a better world behind.
So don't grieve for these soldiers when they have finished their race,
Just work harder yourself to make this a better place.
On the top of one side of the monument there is a picture of the late Sergeant Nick Bacon, a Caraway native, who is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. On the top of the other side of the monument are the 17 names of the Caraway veterans who did not return from war and gave their all.
As the 17 names were called, a member of the family or friend released a balloon in their honor. They are: Wendell Glen Vaughn, Edward Stroud, Ralph Goodman, Sam Modesitt, Hubert Ballard, Henry Winemiller, Ernest Caldwell, Paul Dickerson, J.R. Schmitt, Charles Fletcher, Harold Gunn, Carl Haynes, Van W. Hill, Roy Kendrick, Irby Newsom, John Thresher and Jack Stotts.
In addition to the monument, a handicapped parking area, benches, three flagpoles, and landscaping around the monument make for a beautiful dedication to the veterans of Caraway.
Paper and pencils were provided for anyone who wanted to etch their family member's name for a keepsake.
Refreshments were served. Residents and former residents enjoyed the afternoon visiting with each other and honoring Caraway veterans.