The town of Patriot withstood an early morning rainstorm and saw all of its 4th of July festivities come off without a hitch on Saturday, July 2nd.
Sunny skies and warm temperatures met a big crowd that lined the streets to see the annual parade, which was led by 2022 Grand Marshals David and Connie Fisk, which had run the Fisk Grocery Store in Patriot for years — following the family tradition which had run the store for generations.
The parade featured a wide variety of floats, decorated cars and other motorized vehicles. Children lining the parade route filled bags with candy.
After the parade, everyone moved to the Patriot Memorial Park for the formal dedication of the Patriot Veterans Memorial in the park.
The dedication was hosted by Mike Jones, who has been spearheading the efforts to design and pay for the memorial for the past year.
“Today, we have the honor of dedicating our new Veterans Monument,” Jones told the crowd. “Built in remembrance of the members of the military from our community who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation. The idea for this monument originated last year at our July 4th celebration, when we honored the memory, service, and family of Barry Brinegar, a son of Patriot who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.
“During that service we began mentioning the names of other military members who also lost their lives in the service of our nation,” Jones continued. “I would say that, for a community this size, Patriot has been a part of many of such sacrifices. We began a campaign to raise the funds to build the monument, and thanks to the generosity of several organizations in our community and gifts from private donors, we met our goal. Also a special thanks to Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home and Searcy Monuments in Carrollton.”
Jones told the audience that the criteria for being included on the monument included military members who were from Patriot or Posey Township, or attended the Patriot schools.
Jones then asked for family members of those soldiers who were included on the monument to raise their hands and be recognized; and then invited family members to come forward and share their thoughts.
Bobbie Bond Patrick from Texas, the sister of Floyd Wayne Bond who was killed during the Vietnam War, shared her memories of her brother with the audience.
“Fifty one years ago for us, since my brother was lost,” she shared. “Sometimes it’s like yesterday, but it’s so good to know that he — and everyone else whose name is on here, is honored and is remembered. A Marine detail came through Patriot 51 years ago, and on their way to notify my mother and dad, they stopped in Patriot for directions. One of the Marines in the detail just happened to be the grandson of someone here in Patriot, so that grandfather got in the car and went with them to my parents home. That was Bob Gregory, for anyone who remembers him.
“Word travels fast in a small town,” she continued. “And when I flew in the next day from Texas, there were people all around the kitchen table. There were people in the living room. There was a woman mowing our yard with tears streaming down her face. My grandfather met me as I came in the house and told me, ‘We will get through this’.”
Randy Craig, a cousin of Bond, also shared some memories.
“Waynie and I were the same age,” Craig said. “There were three cousins all born in the fall of 1946. We had a bond that surpasses anything that I’ve experienced, but I also have that with Bobbie and Craig also. It’s good to remember….
“To say on this day, ‘Do we miss Waynie’, yes we do,” Craig continued. “He’ll never leave our memory. That’s one thing good about that, that we can remember him. Yes, we’re sad that he left us way too early, but we’re daggone sure, we’re happy that we knew Captain Floyd Wayne Bond, U.S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi, Waynie.”
Barrie Watters came in from North Carolina, to speak about his relative who was killed in World War I.
“There’s a young gentleman who is on that stone whose name was Mister, Sergeant Hughes, his name was Forrest Hughes,” Watters said. “Forrest when he was 17, enlisted in the Army, and was immediately sent to France. Just before his birthday, he was shot down and he didn’t come home. That was sad for my family. Of course I didn’t know him, but I heard all the stories. I want all of you to strive for peace. I want all of you to love one another, it’s so important. Respect each other, because we never know, we don’t know, who’s name is going to be placed on that monument in the future.”
Next was Carolyn Martin, who spoke to the audience of memories of two of her relatives who are included on the monument — Leon Vantyle from World War II and Harvey Eugene Thomas, who lost his life in Korea.
“I never got to know them; but just because we never got to know them, doesn’t mean that we did not love them and that we do not thank them for their service to our country that gave us our freedom that we have today,” Carolyn said. “Please remember your veterans. Thank them whenever you see them, and be respectful to them.”
After another young man spoke briefly, members of the VFW Post #5396 unveiled the monument, which was met with a huge round of applause. Following the end of the ceremony, people lingered to take photos and share memories.