Initiative created to bring a veterans memorial park to Guntersville

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice are being honored on Memorial Day 2021 at veteran parks all across Northeast Alabama.

The lakeside city of Guntersville does not have a proper veterans memorial park, but one group is working to change that.

The flag flies not because the wind moves it, but because of the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.

The paraphrased quote was on the minds of a group of veterans and their loved ones at an impromptu Memorial Day ceremony.

“Machine gun shot me through the right side, two rounds and killed my radio operator named Richard Testa, killed my Sergeant named Sgt. Jerry Jibbens with me. Later on, I was trying to talk on my radio when a sniper shot me through the abdomen, ” said Purple Heart recipient Bill Franklin.

Franklin tells News 19 that was the battle of Ia Drang in 1965.

The movie “We Were Soldiers” was based on that historic event.

He says he is blessed to be able to honor and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield and hopes the Freedom Park initiative can bring the dreams of a proper veterans memorial park in Guntersville to reality.

“Every generation contributes from the smallest towns to the largest cities in our country and this town’s made more than its share of contributions. I think they need and they deserve a place for veterans to call their own,” said Franklin.

There is usually a ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Marshall County memorial by the courthouse, but folks behind the new park initiative tell News 19 there are some issues with this location.

“The traffic’s bad down there. The noise is bad. It’s very difficult to do a ceremony there,” explained initiative member Anthony Campbell.

Campbell says they want to transform a parking deck on Worth Street into the veterans park.

“Five or six monuments recognizing each of the branches of the armed forces and then we would add different monuments for individuals and units as the park develops. The pavement would come up and be replaced with sod, landscaping,” added Campbell.

However, it may take some time.

The Freedom Park initiative is trying to get nonprofit status and will not begin fundraising until that is done in a few months or so.

They hope by Memorial Day 2022 to have a new peaceful place where all veterans can come and pay tribute to those who laid down their lives for our freedom.

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