New Veterans' Memorial Unveiled Downtown
A new memorial honoring veterans from Leon County schools now stands downtown. The tall granite slab is in front of the Bloxham Building. Leon County school spokesman Chris Petley said placing the memorial in front of the Bloxham Building was appropriate because of its history as the former Caroline Brevard School.
In the dedication ceremony, tearful family members placed roses at the base of the wall after the names of their loved ones were read aloud. Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons spoke during the ceremony.
“We live in the greatest country, and we have freedom that other countries don’t have. And these are the individuals that fought to protect those freedoms. I think it’s something that’s very powerful, and these students, these great heroes, Americans, they’ll be remembered forever,” Pons said.
The memorial took two years to complete. More than 40 local businesses contributed more than $30,000 to pay for it. There are ten names on the memorial, of veterans who’ve died since the first Gulf War. Names of other veterans may be added to the wall in the future.
Alberta Simmons attended the ceremony to see her son’s name, Shawn Simmons, on the wall. Shawn joined the Army while out of town for the summer, so the Army doesn’t list his home as Tallahassee, even though he grew up here. Ms. Simmons said she’s happy to have Tallahassee acknowledged as her son’s home.
“To have our hometown recognize him, it just means everything, because he was an only child, and, as the general was saying, we pass away. And a hundred years from now, there won’t be any siblings in his family to continue the tradition of making sure he’s never forgotten,” Ms. Simmons said.