Story by JEFFREY POWELL
Some months ago Freeport historian Beckie Buxton had a conversation with Trudy Boudreaux, whose husband was a Blue Angel, concerning the lack of a Veterans Memorial in Freeport. Little did these ladies know that their conversation would culminate in the unveiling of an eagle-topped memorial on Veterans Day 2010 while over 300 people looked on. Both Buxton and Boudreaux were in attendance as Tim Ard, Freeport Veterans Memorial chairperson addressed the crowd.
“What a historical day this is for Freeport,” Ard said fighting back tears. “Just as our military men and women join together in the daily fight for freedom, both at home and on the battlefields of the world, they have come together today in recognition and honor of those who serve today and those who have gone before them.”
Ard’s poignant words resonated throughout the gathering as an honor guard consisting of each branch of the military prepared to unveil a large eagle-topped monument on the grounds of Freeport City Hall. Surrounding the main stone are monuments dedicated to each military branch. Many Veterans were in attendance including World War II sailor Malcolm Strickland who was at Pearl Harbor and witnessed the destruction and death of many of his comrades.
“My daughter thought it would be a good idea for me to be here and she was right,” Strickland said. “This ceremony is a good thing. I helped place over 500 dead sailors on the dock in Hawaii. I do not feel like veterans get enough attention.”
Thursday’s ceremony is to be the beginning of an annual celebration in Freeport which has never before celebrated Veterans Day in a public setting.
“There are so many people to thank,” said Ard. “First and foremost is the city of Freeport and the Town Planters, I would also like to express my deepest thanks to everyone that helped this day become a reality. I am filled with patriotism, pride and joy.”
“I am thrilled to death over this ceremony,” said Buxton. “We can all be so proud. Thank goodness for Trudy Boudreaux and her idea. Everyone has done such a good job.”