NEWS: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2015
College of the Ozarks dedicates official Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial today, April 22, 2015
Bagpiper plays Amazing Grace. Photo courtesy of Shan SwiftPOINT LOOKOUT, MO. — The 1,410 servicemen and women from Missouri who gave their lives in the Vietnam War were honored today at the dedication of The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial at College of the Ozarks. The ceremony began with a lone bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” emerging from Veterans Grove and nearing the platform stage.
President of the college, Jerry C. Davis, welcomed the more than 3,500 attendees who were gathered to honor the Missouri fallen and say thank you to Vietnam Veterans.
“The event today represents one of the five goals of College of Ozarks, and that is the goal of patriotism,” Davis said. “We define that as encouraging an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and the willingness to defend it.
Davis also thanked Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris for helping make the dream of the memorial a reality. The funds the college received as a charitable beneficiary of the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge were designated by Davis to build the memorial.
Mr. Johnny Morris addresses crowd. Photo courtesy of Kevin White“There is no school in the country like this place, Hard Work U.,” Morris said. “The things this school stands for are things that really have built the values and backbone of our whole country. We had the opportunity to host this golf tournament, and the PGA TOUR has a great reputation for helping raise money for charities. With our regard for Hard Work U., it took us about two seconds to pick Hard Work U. to be the recipient of any proceeds that might come from this tournament.”
Setting the stage
After the Presentation of Colors, singing of the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and the opening prayer, remarks were made by Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and alumnus General Terrence R. Dake, USMC (Ret.).
“The memorial stands at the entrance to the college where it boldly proclaims that the College of the Ozarks, backed up by the state of Missouri, appreciates and honors our Vietnam Veterans,” Kinder said. “These Veterans did not receive the homecoming they deserved. Only in this war were our Veterans shamefully treated despite their honorable service,” he said. “However, there is no statute of limitations on honor. Thank you, Vietnam Veterans. The grateful people of Missouri say thank you.”
Chapter 913 Color Guard. Photo courtesy of Meg WhiteGeneral Terrence R. Dake, alumnus (1964 graduate of School of the Ozarks junior college) and decorated Vietnam Veteran, remembers classmates who were called upon to serve in Vietnam, but who did not return – John Clayton Wallace, 1966 graduate, School of the Ozarks junior college; Anthony Burdette Blair, 1962 graduate, School of the Ozarks high school; and Robert Jines, 1966 graduate, School of the Ozarks junior college. These students’ names are engraved on the walls that now stand at the college’s entrance.
Dake reflected on the life of classmate John Wallace, who grew up near him in Neosho, Missouri.
Col. North and Dr. Davis place wreath. Photo courtesy of Kevin White“He was sophisticated and polished. He was a thoughtful man. He reported to Vietnam in 1968, the same year I did,” Dake said. “His second month in Vietnam, he was shot down. He gave his life in service to his country.
“Vietnam Veterans came back to a nation that was not entirely grateful for their service,” Dake said. “This memorial goes a long way in righting that wrong.”
Featured speaker Lt. Col. Oliver North
The featured speaker for the dedication, Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret.), hailed the college for building the memorial and also noted the strong tie to the goals of the college.
As the divided walls of the memorial symbolize, North also talked about the divided sentiment in America over the Vietnam War.
“I think the nay-sayers don’t understand sacrifice,” North said. “Consider this. Those who serve today say they decided to serve because of 9-11. And their parents served in Vietnam. What happened to the Veterans of Vietnam should not have happened, and it better never happen again.
Touching name. Photo courtesy of Larry Plumlee“This memorial is going to outlast the nay-sayers,” he said. “Students coming to this college for years to come will have this memorial to remind them of these American heroes.
“How appropriate it is that this college in the Ozarks is the chosen site by the state of Missouri to build the official Vietnam memorial, a place where many served. A place where those who didn’t return are now remembered. This college teaches lessons in perseverance, loyalty, integrity and courage to do what is right.”
Symbolism of the memorial
President Davis also spoke about the symbolism of the memorial.
“The wall is divided because this country was divided,” Davis said. “But those fighting this war forged ahead. They looked after each other.”
Roses layed at memorial. Photo courtesy of Shan SwiftIn between the two walls stands a statue of Vietnam Veterans, representing those who served in Vietnam and returned home to live the rest of their lives with memories of war. Kindergarteners from the S. Truett Cathy Lower School were in attendance and during the ceremony, filed by this statue, placing roses at the base to honor those who lived. They represent the future and the commitment the college makes to ensure the memories, stories and lessons of our military are passed from generation to generation.
A flower bed in the shape of the letter “V” for valor displayed a bed of red roses, representing the blood shed by servicemen and women.
“The ‘V’ stands for ‘valor,’ and there was plenty of that in Vietnam, but it was never properly acknowledged,” Davis said. “When we unveil these walls, you will see a unique band of brothers and sisters. They sacrificed their lives.”
The memorial was designed by Austin Meyer, a 2014 College of the Ozarks graduate.
The ultimate sacrifice
The musical backdrop for the ceremony was provided by College of the Ozarks groups including the concert band, chapel choir and chorale.
21 gun salute. Photo courtesy of Kevin WhiteA 21 Gun Salute was presented by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 913, of Branson. Current VVA President Ron Simmons and previous VVA President Bob Sarver were a part of the platform party. The VVA, Chapter 913, also had the dream for the memorial to be built on the College of the Ozarks campus and played an integral part in assisting the college as the dream became a reality.
Taps was played by Sergeant Major Bob Smither, US Army (Ret.), and wreaths were placed on the walls by Colonel Don Ballard, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Vietnam Veteran Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, and President Jerry Davis.
Prior to the unveiling of the walls, Davis, along with Dake, spoke of the alumni of the original School of the Ozarks who served and died in Vietnam.
“One day they were in Foster Hall, and the next day they were on the other side of the world, doing what their country asked them to do,” Davis said. “They gave the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their lives.”
For more information, call the public relations office at (417) 690-2212.
About College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks is a Christian, liberal arts college located on a 1,000-acre campus in Point Lookout, Mo. Christian values, hard work and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The college earns numerous accolades yearly, including being named the #1 Best Value College in the Midwest for 2015 by “U.S. News & World Report.” To achieve its vision, College of the Ozarks pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, begun in fall 2012 for high school students, and the S. Truett Cathy Lower School, opened in fall 2014 to K-sixth grade students. Seventh and eighth grades will be added in fall 2015, completing the K-12 model. For information, call the public relations office at (417) 690-2212 or visit www.cofo.edu. Follow College of the Ozarks at www.facebook.com/collegeoftheozarks or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU
04.22.15 – vgc