TERRE HAUTE —
Friends and family gathered around the courthouse in memory of a fallen warrior Saturday.
Dozens of supporters attended the dedication ceremony of a monument to those killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Gene and Dona Griffin, parents of Dale, joined others as his name was etched into the tall stone facing U.S. 41, situated in the Vigo County Veterans Memorial Plaza.
In October 2009, U.S. Army Sgt. Griffin, 29, was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. The name of the standout athlete at Terre Haute South Vigo High School joins that of U.S. Army Sgt. Kyle Childress, 29, who was killed while serving in Iraq in January 2005.
Breezy air kept temperatures in the mid-30s that morning, as Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett remarked that no matter how many times one offers such memorial services, it’s always hard. And yet the freedom to meet in public and host such events depends on men and women being willing to serve their country.
“Right now, there are things going on that we don’t even know about,” he said, encouraging people to be mindful of ongoing engagements throughout the world.
After an opening prayer was offered by Dona Griffin, her husband, Gene, returned thanks for people’s support.
“This community has really reached out to us,” he said, recalling the streets lined with people amid funeral processions and memorial services. His son, he said, wanted to serve his country, and that opportunity exists in numerous ways. Quoting from the works of Alexis de Tocqueville, he pointed out that America’s history is built upon the work of many people, each doing their part. “We’re so thankful for the love that’s been shown us.”
Representatives of veterans organizations and members of the community credited the existence of veterans plaza as being a beneficial development for the community.
Griffin family friend, Klaine Tanner, played the bagpipes as part of the ceremony and later described the morning as a positive one.
“It was good. It was very uplifting,” he said of the service.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.