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    Operation Freedom Memorial Dedication Ceremony

    Operation Freedom Memorial Dedicaiton

    Photo By Sgt. Debrah Sanders | Members of the Wichita Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps present the colors, May...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Debrah Sanders 

    366th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    WICHITA, Kan. – It’s a pleasant summer day. The grass is green, sky is blue, the wind is minimal. Runners enjoy this sort of weather. Some chose to run the river walk that runs along the Arkansas River today. In the midst of their route, they might be taken off guard by a gathering in the Veterans’ Memorial Park that lines the river walk area.

    For today, for many families, is a day to immortalize the memory of the service members that gave the ultimate sacrifice from Operation Desert Storm, up through the current ongoing conflicts.

    Operation Freedom Memorial is the brainchild of gold star mother Anita Dixon. Dixon lost her son, Army Sgt. Evan Parker during Operation Iraqi Freedom in October 2005. Sometime after his death, she took a walk through Veterans’ Memorial Park. “I thought, ‘It’s much too quiet here’, “ said Dixon.

    It was then she got the idea to create a memorial to honor those Kansas service members that had passed away. She said she wanted their names to echo through the park, and to be remembered.

    The project began in 2008, said Dixon. She recruited several local business owners to help her, including a local construction contractor, John Wilson. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Wilson.

    The initial cost was going to be $300,000, Wilson said. Wilson and Dixon, with the help of several local businesses and volunteers, got the cost down to $133,000.

    “We held every type of fundraiser you can imagine,” said Wilson. After almost six years, their project is finally complete.

    The memorial consists of a black granite wall with the names of over 90 service members that have passed during the included conflicts. In addition, there is a bronze statue of a Soldier looking at a “battlefield cross.” A battlefield cross consists of boots, a vertical rifle, and a helmet.

    “It was a very rewarding journey, and I have grown stronger everyday,” said Dixon. Dixon said she felt she need to do this to honor all the fallen, including her son.

    When asked what her son would say about this project, Dixon said, “He would say ‘Mom never quits. If you have a job that needs to be done, she’ll complete it.’”

    Dixon was not alone in reflecting, and remembering those lost. The ceremony was open to the public, and many families attended to view the memorial and see their service members names’ engraved into the memorial. Never forgotten.



    Date Taken: 05.17.2014
    Date Posted: 05.18.2014 17:11
    Story ID: 130201
    Location: WICHITA, KS, US 

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