By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - Neil Armstrong - best known as the first astronaut to set foot on the moon, but also a Navy pilot who flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War - helped dedicate a veterans memorial here Saturday.
The Mason Veterans Memorial was dedicated Saturday.|
(Tony Jones photo)
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"Today we congratulate those gallant souls who have represented us in battle and have returned as citizens of this community," Armstrong said during an afternoon ceremony. "And we mourn those who did not return."
The remarks of the Indian Hill resident, coming just a few days before Veterans Day, were particularly poignant as American troops remain under fire in Iraq.
Mason's new memorial is in front of the city building at 6000 Mason-Montgomery Road. The $600,000 memorial boasts an array of features to represent veterans of major United States military events. It also functions as an educational tool.
Anita Harper of Mason brought her 6- and 8-year-old children to the dedication ceremony.
"I'm here to pay my respects to veterans and to people who are current active duty," she said. "I'm also trying to teach my children the importance of respecting veterans and those who currently serve.
"This is a good way to teach our current generation about our history."
A stone path runs along the course of the memorial area. Eleven stone monoliths stand in the middle and represent 10 major military events: The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
The 11th marker is a pillar of hope.
Every pillar is etched with information about the specific event. Also, the upper portion of each marker graphically represents the number of U.S. servicemen and women who died during that war.
The most dramatic portion of the memorial area is the wall of tears, a smooth, black granite wall that spans the width of the garden. A constant flow of water is distributed along the length of the wall and cascades from a thin trough, causing a sheet of "tears" to fall.
In front of it stands the eternal flame, which burns for prisoners of war and those missing in action.
"It's an honor for me to be here - especially for something like this," said skydiver Paul McCowan, 57, of Mason, who made a demonstration jump as part of the ceremony.
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