Murray County's new veterans' memorial
Story by Eyewitness News Reporter Megan Boatwright
MURRAY CO, GA. (WRCB)-- Two thousand people showed up to a dedication service of Murray County's newest veteran memorial.
A group of friends and veterans have been working for two years to make the dream a reality.
Gene Ridley and the names of his eight brothers are now on the memorial along with 500 others from Murray County.
"Nine brothers and myself from WWII, Korean War and Vietnam," says Ridley.
It's not often you hear of nine sons from one family serving their country.
"We're one of the biggest families in Murray County," says Ridley.
What's even more remarkable is Gene Ridley and all of his brothers made it back home. Which is probably why this man can hardly hold back the tears as he looks at the familiar names etched into the stone.
While most of these men are gone now, Gene was able to share the day with his family and the two brothers he has left. He says the monument is a dream come true.
"There's so many. There's 500 or something bricks here. We got a lot more coming," says Ridley.
It all started when a group of friends and veterans were given a project by their commissioner.
"We had a meeting at the courthouse and he said that he would provide the land for us in the park in preparation for a site and we decided that we needed to build a memorial," says Kendrick.
It took two years and a quarter of a million dollars to get to today.
"Huge success, absolutely huge success and veterans will be well-remembered," says Kendrick.
Bruce Kendrick received three purple hearts for his service during the Vietnam War. He says all the names represented here are in some way tied to Murray County.
"For people to realize the sacrifices that soldiers make," says Kendrick.
It's a day these men will never forget. To them it's the best thanks for the sacrifice that comes with the honor of serving your country.
"Freedom is not free, freedom has to be paid for and the bill gets pretty expensive sometimes with a lot of lives," says Kendrick.
The monument begins with 500 names and next to those are another 200 hundred bricks that haven't been named yet. The memorial committee says they're taking orders and will be engraving many more names before the 4th of July.