Walk of Honor

A woman inspects the naes of veterans along the Always Free Walk of Honor in Princeton

PRINCETON — Volunteers read one-by-one Monday the names of veterans being added to a walk of honor which memorializes the men and women who served their country in the Armed Forces.

During a Veterans Day ceremony outside the Memorial Building near the Mercer County Courthouse, 78 new veterans’ names were added to the Always Free Walk of Honor. Dreama Denver, president of Always Free Honor Flight, told the audience that funds raised from the bricks bearing the names of veterans helps fund the Always Free Honor Flight, which takes veterans on bus tours to Washington, D.C. so they can see the monuments erected in their honor.

Pam Coulbourne, coordinator for Honor Flight and Marie Blackwell, a Honor Flight board member, took turns reading the 78 names. Veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, woman who was a Rosy the Riveter working in the nation’s wartime factories, and other joined the Always Free Walk of Honor.

“Veterans Day is the day Americans set aside to celebrate and thank veterans who have served our country in the Armed Services,” Paul Dorsey, vice president of Honor Flight, said. “On day one they took an oath to defend the Constitution up to and including paying the same ultimate sacrifice.”

Keynote speaker Mike Atwell, an Honor Flight board member, spoke about why Veterans Day is important to him and others.

“I was privileged enough to serve beside some of what I consider to be the bravest men I have ever known,” Atwell said. “I was a Fleet Marine Force corpsman stationed with the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and deployed with Regimental Combat Team 7 to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2010. Every single day we would wake up ready and willing to lay down our lives for each other. And that is a brotherhood and bond that I will cherish forever.”

Veterans of the military know when they enlist that they are committing themselves to the country and its people, “but most importantly, to the man or woman signing that line next to you. By signing that line, you are saying to them, ‘I’ve got you. I will protect you, and I know you will protect me.’”

Atwell called on the audience to remember veterans and their sacrifices.

“So this Veterans Day, stop and think about those you know who have served, and be thankful the ones you know and love have an entire network of veterans they call brother and sister,” he said.

In the ceremony’s opening prayer, Pastor Rev. Dr. Thomas McDowel of the First United Methodist Church in Princeton, spoke of veterans and what they did for their country.

“Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced,” he prayed. “For the sacrifices they made, for their many contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression.”

Cheryl Nunley Brodnick sang the National Anthem. The Presentation of Colors was conducted by the Montcalm High School JROTC cadets. Honorable mention was made of the Memorial Building Museum staff, Mercer County JROTC Program, Princeton Health Care, Belinda Flowers and Conner Printing.

People who are interested in learning more about the Honor Flight and Walk of Honor programs can call 304-320-6032 or 304-920-8770, or visit bobdenver.com on the internet.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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