By LIBBY CLUETT
MINERAL WELLS – Despite a rain shower and cooling spell earlier Saturday morning, over 100 veterans, active military, community members and at least two sets of Medal of Honor relatives gathered to dedicate Fort Wolters Historical Park's new memorial to those who received the highest military award, given by the president, and served in Mineral Wells during World War II or the Vietnam War.
Starting the event were veterans, many from the Vietnam War, with the American Legion Riders, who circled the park on motorcycles, and the North Texas Veterans Association, from Decatur, which posted colors and later closed the ceremony with a four-gun salute.
Mineral Wells High School Choir Director Mac Chestnut, a former U.S. Marine serving in direct-air support, sang before and at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Three key speakers gave perspectives on the Medal of Honor, beginning with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway. He said there have been around 3,400 recipients of the Medal of Honor, dating back to the Civil War, and most – Audie Murphy aside – live out quiet lives.
He recalled a fellow Odessa high school student, Staff Sgt. Rex Young, who died in battle in Vietnam and later received the Medal of Honor. He said he thinks about the sacrifice Young made and the life he didn't get to live.
Conaway told the crowd that it's important to have people willing to take the risks involved with serving in the military and to take care of those who survive battle.
“Future generations of Americans will only take those risks if we take care of the ones who have done it and survived it,” he said.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lee Evans, a “Mineral Wells son,” also addressed the crowd and presented a display of flags.
“It is my honor and a privilege to represent the active-duty soldiers who have taken up the guidon and followed in the footsteps of these brave individuals,” Evans said.