Earlier this week, in preparation for Memorial Day, I visited the Alabama Veterans Memorial Park located just off the Liberty Park exit on Interstate 459.
As I approached each of the thirty-six columns, I read the engraved letters by Alabama families who lost loved ones to war and the twenty-five Alabama Medal of Honor citations, describing some of our bravest heroes.
Alongside the engravings are powerful, spiritual, patriotic, unifying, soul-wrenching, graceful and unforgettable pieces of artwork embedded in the columns. Each original and lovingly crafted by Alabama artists.
After my lengthy stroll around the columns, I quietly entered the Hall of Honor where the names of more than 11,000 Alabamians who died during active duty in World War I & II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Iraq and Afghanistan are etched in stone.
The walls are nearly three stories high. The inscribed names are fading. But when I stood quietly in this sacred space, I was reminded of the concluding words from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
“…they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
From the Hall of Honor, I took the wooded path back to the park entrance.
This Memorial Day, let’s unite as a nation behind the brave men and women who served, fought and died for us. Thanks to the Alabama Veteran Memorial Park, all Alabamians have a solemn place to remember.