I am writing concerning the message in SpeakOut on Thursday about our new helicopter in Veteran's Park. I note the caller served our country for an extended time, including service in Korea. Perhaps he recognizes our new helicopter as one used during the Korean War era for purposes of reconnaissance and for removal of wounded troops to medical facilities. This helicopter was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3174 to commemorate the service of our fellow comrades during the Korean War. This particular type of helicopter was not used for battle but to save the lives of those in the conflict.
As you know, Veteran's Park was established in 1991 as a memorial to our veterans who served in what was known as the Persian Gulf War. The park display was created by a joint committee of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Sikeston, recognizing those who had served their country during both war and peace. A monument was placed by several of our civic organizations and citizens of Sikeston. A Walk of Honor was established to recognize those in our community who had served their country. Bricks are placed in that walk by the families of veterans honoring those citizen soldiers.
The members of the Veteran's Park Committee decided that artifacts used in different conflicts in which our veterans were involved would be put on display at the park to honor those veterans who placed their lives on the line for peace and the freedom of their fellow citizens here at home. The first artifact placed was an M60A1 Battle Tank used during the Vietnam War era to honor veterans who had served their country during that period. Later, an F4 Phantom Jet was placed on display to recognize the veterans who had served their country during the Persian Gulf War. Subsequently, a 105MM Howitzer Artillery piece was placed on display to commemorate the service of those veterans serving during World War II. And, last, after nearly three years in preparation, the Bell helicopter has been placed on display to honor those veterans who served during the Korean War.
Although some may view these artifacts as weapons of war, those of us serving on the Veteran's Park Committee view these displays as symbols and reminders of what is necessary to keep the peace and freedom of our citizens.
These displays are intertwined with numerous flowers and trees that have been placed in Veteran's Park to memorialize the service of veterans by their families. We recently placed an order for marble benches by families and service organizations to commemorate those who have served in the armed services. New picnic shelters with tables have recently been erected in Sikeston Veteran's Park for the use and enjoyment of all of our citizens.
Many veteran and non-veteran members of our community serve on the Veteran's Park Committee, to help us remember the sacrifices that many have made so that all of us can enjoy the freedom we have in the United States, Missouri and the Sikeston area. Sikeston Veteran's Park hosts Memorial Day ceremonies, Flag Day ceremonies and ceremonies of civic organizations yearly. The Sikeston Veteran's Park Committee members, along with many other citizens of Sikeston, helped organize these events, as well as the Veteran's Day ceremony held each year at the Sikeston Field House.
Thus, we welcome the comments of our fellow comrade who recognizes that we do have a new display of the Korean War era Bell helicopter at Sikeston's park. In our eyes, these displays recognize the veterans who served in the respective conflicts and in conjunction with the trees, flowers and picnic areas, and memorials presently in place at the park symbolize the honor and regard we hold for those who have served their country for the peace and freedom all of us enjoy.
Thank you for your continued support of our efforts.
Stephen L. Taylor, chairman
Sikeston Veteran's Park Committee