TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-A monument more than a decade in the making was officially dedicated Monday at Gage Park.
The Combat Veteran Monument honors America's heroes. Sixty-eight years ago, the Japanese signed the surrender papers ending World War II on September 2, 1945. And Monday, veterans of that war and all wars have their place of honor.
With Junior ROTC cadets showcasing the star spangled banner, Korean War veteran, Dwane Eberhardt, describes this day in one word.
"Humbling. Humbling, these are real, real heroes. I was in the peace time navy really, and Korea was over when I came in, but these are real heroes," says Eberhardt as he stares at the memorial wall engraved with military names.
The Combat Veterans Monument in Gage Park honors those heroes.
A dedication ceremony included a gun salute and roses placed in honor of military veterans.
Visitors say its important to never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"I'm here today to honor veterans that have given our lives for us, for this, too many people take it for granted," says Alice Rodriguez as she sheds some tears. She is there to honor her 5 brothers who are veterans.
Visitors also heard the history of troop trains. For many years, trains transported military troops to camps and now World War II veterans are emulating that by riding the mini train at Gage Park.
World War II veteran Charles Hamm recalls the sounds of a troop train as if he heard it yesterday.
"He pulled into this little town, the guys jumped off, all of a sudden 'toot!' you hear this really loud toot, long screaming toot," says Hamm.
Each train Monday carried veterans from a different war with the last ride empty to represent those killed in action and missing in action.
They also have a spot on the monument -a permanent reminder the nation will never forget.
Fundraising continues to purchase an eight-foot tall bronze statue by artist Jim Brother, who died earlier this month.
Send donations to:
Gage Park Memorial Inc.
P.O. Box 750572
Topeka, KS 66675