Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Champion of Veterans to Speak During VFW Memorial Day Program

Newnan's new Veterans Memorial Plaza will be dedicated May 25 during the annual Memorial Day program.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2667 will conduct the community Memorial Day ceremonies at 11 a.m. Guest speaker will be John Gwizdak, VFW past national commander. Gwizdak, a retired Army officer, is a Vietnam veteran.

He has been the featured speaker at similar events held all across the nation and has for 25 years been a champion for veterans programs here in Georgia. A short musical program will be presented by Northside Elementary School Chorus, under the direction of Miss Joan Nelms.

VFW Commander Jeff Carroll said this year's program will pay homage to every name on the community Honor Rolls that will be the plaza centerpiece. "This is a change from our normal ceremonies, which for each of the last 12 years has honored one of Coweta's war dead," said Carroll.

"This year, while we remember those men, we celebrate this wonderful community achievement that tells the world that Cowetans cherish the memory of their sacrifices," Carroll said.

The park will feature plaques that list Coweta's war dead in each conflict from World War I forward. "We offer a special invitation to the family and friends of each man whose name is displayed on the bronze plaques," Carroll said.

The plaza was built with donations from individuals, businesses, the Newnan City Council and the Coweta County Board of Commissioners. More than 2,000 memorial engraved bricks were sold and will form the floor of the monument's two levels.

Mike Furbush, landscape architect for the City of Newnan, said the bricks were on the site late last week. "They're going to start laying those on Monday or Tuesday," Furbush said.

As future generations buy bricks, they will be placed once a year until the 10,000 capacity is reached. Still in production are life-sized statues of Coweta's two Medal of Honor recipients, Col. Joe Jackson and Major Stephen Pless. It is anticipated that the statues will be placed in time for a Veterans Day dedication.

Those planning to attend the May 25 ceremony should consider bringing lawn chairs. There will be some parking at McKoon Funeral Home, which is next to the park. In the event of rain, the program will be held at Wadsworth Auditorium on Jefferson Street.

Immediately following the ceremonies, the Coweta Veterans Club is inviting the public to a Memorial Day Dinner at the club on U.S. Highway 29 North. Food will be served until 2:30.