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NORTH – More than 200 people at the Town of North Veterans Memorial Park dedication ceremony Saturday watched as a dark granite monument for all Armed Forces was unveiled and listened as at least 12 pages of names of area veterans were read to be remembered or honored.

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Attendees stood or sat atop or near many pavers purchased and inscribed with veterans’ names, sat on some of the dedicated benches or stood near dedicated, planted trees, some with tears in their eyes, grateful smiles, applause and an “amen” here or there.

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“I am grateful for your attendance on this chilly but thankful afternoon. This park is something we can all be proud of,” Mayor Patty Carson said in her welcome.

After giving the invocation, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bowman of St. Mark United Methodist Church said, “I am very proud to be a veteran. Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

Carson recognized Patrick Livingston, a native of North, who designed the memorial park and is the son of Nancy and Theron Livingston of North, who were also recognized.

“I am thankful to be a part of this project … and hope it will be a special place for all for years to come,” Livingston said.

Carson next introduced special guest Orangeburg County Councilman Heyward Livingston.

“This has been an ongoing project. It took us a little bit to get it completed,” the councilman said.

He thanked the county and state officials and thanked the citizens for purchasing pavers, benches, and trees in honor on in memory of their veteran loved ones.

Councilman Livingston mentioned being a Vietnam veteran as well.

“I reflected back on being a young man in the ‘60s going to Vietnam. It brought back a lot of touchy times,” he said.

He said that he had thought he knew what he was going to say and had returned to the park several times to compose his words.

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“What I would have said would have amounted to nothing,” he said. “The North Veterans Park will speak for itself and for the veterans who served.”

Carson said, “This dedication is a time and place to memorialize those veterans who have served in war and peace … and for those who have served admirably.”

She quoted a line from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this.”

Carson compared the granite of the monument, the pavers and the steel of the benches in the park to veterans’ strength, and the grass to the softer side of veterans.

“All these characteristics relate to the American veteran,” she said.

“Today, we make our Founding Fathers very proud … With the dedication of this memorial, we will not forget our veterans,” she said. “We are surrounded by the spirits of those who have served our country. We thank God for each and every one of them.

“I encourage everyone to visit this park often. As free Americans, it belongs to you. I encourage our young folks to preserve it for generations to come. Use this memorial as a place to heal your very soul. Children will learn lessons of freedom from parents and grandparents here,” she said.

“When you lay your head down on your pillow tonight, thank God for the freedom you enjoy.”

The Rev. Richard Toy of North United Methodist Church, an Air Force veteran, said, “There are two things that we must consider today. First, what military service is.”

The Rev. Toy discussed veterans serving the greater good and said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Secondly, he talked about the sacrifice veterans have made when it came to leaving their families and beating back tyranny and oppression.

Toy harkened back to his time in Korea for two deployments in the ‘90s and said that he was not as old as the Korean and Vietnam War veterans present.

He said he always remembered the historic words of the late President John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."

"Veteran service is about serving something larger than ourselves,” he added.

Toy then assisted the Patriot Guard Riders in unveiling the new monument at the park.

Wallace Gleaton, commander of the S.C. Veterans Group of North, spoke briefly about the park as well. He and Bridget Salley read several pages of names of local veterans. 1st Sgt. Joseph Justice of the S.C. National Guard participated in the ceremony as well.

Jordan Smith played “Taps,” and the Denmark-Olar High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors during the ceremony. Community volunteers Doyle Carson, John Gleaton, Billy Robinson, Dagan Schofield, Tommy Williams and members of Boy Scout Troop 45 were recognized.

A mayor’s reception, sponsored by CSX Transportation, was held at the town hall after the ceremony.

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Contact the writer: rbaxley37@gmail.com.

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