Kentucky dedicates Guard memorial

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Col. Charles Jones traces the etching of his son’s name on the Kentucky National Guard Memorial in Frankfort, Ky., May 25, 2015. The newly-dedicated monument honors the memory of more than 230 Kentucky Guardsmen who have lost their lives on duty since 1912, including Jones’ son, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Jason Jones who died in Iraq in 2006. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Flags were raised, the ribbon was cut, names were read and the tears fell. Kentucky now has a permanent shrine to fallen Guardsmen.

Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen and Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini joined hundreds of current and former Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, friends and family members in a dedication ceremony for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial on Memorial Day, May 25 at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky.

“With a beautiful stone map of Kentucky and that incredible statue of Daniel Boone standing guard … there’s nothing quite like it in our city,” said Lt. Gov. Luallen. “I don’t think there’s anything quite like it anywhere in the state of Kentucky.  It is a fitting tribute to your fallen loved ones, and serve as a reminder to all of us that freedom isn’t free.”

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Lynn Romans (center) and other family members trace the names of their fallen loved ones on the Kentucky National Guard Memorial in Frankfort, Ky., May 25, 2015. More than 230 names of fallen Guardsmen are etched on the new memorial at the Boone National Guard Center. (U. S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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Nearly ten years in the making, the memorial honors more than 230 Guardsmen who have given their lives in the line of duty since 1912, in defense of the nation overseas and here at home.

One of those is Lynn Romans’ son, Sgt. Darrin Potter who was killed in Iraq in 2003. Romans is happy the memorial is finished and so close to the road for people to see.

“Recognizing everyone on that wall will ensure that they are never forgotten,” she said. “This recognizes the real heroes among us and we all should take a moment and relish our freedoms we have because of them.”

Tonini thanked the crowd and everyone who contributed to the memorial including local Future Farmers of America members who added the final touches of landscaping just days before. He stated that a part of the memorial is a part of everyone who helped along the way.

“I am truly awe-struck by this beautiful, polished granite rendition of the Bluegrass State, listing the names of our fallen troops … protected by the larger than life figure of the legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone,” stated Tonini. “And as we stand together, I want to remind you that we didn’t just do this for our fallen Guardsmen and women.”

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(Left to right) Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini and Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Adams III cut the ribbon officially dedicating the Kentucky National Guard Memorial in Frankfort, Ky., May 25, 2015. The memorial was ten years in the making and was built for roughly $1.3 million. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“We also did it for their families and loved ones,” he said. “We did this for future generations of Guard Soldiers and Airmen.  Now those who fall in step after us can better appreciate what it means to be a member of the Kentucky National Guard.”

The ceremony also featured a fly-over by a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 and two Blackhawk helicopters, and a 21-gun salute from Howitzer cannons of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade.

Soil from all 120 Kentucky counties was planted at the site in recognition of the Kentucky National Guard being the commonwealth’s “hometown defense force.”

The memorial was built with private funds.

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