Two hundred five U.S. soldiers from Franklin County, a rural farming area of 23,000 people in eastern Kansas, lost their lives from World War I to the Vietnam War. In 1999, the county seat of Ottawa remembered their efforts by dedicating a granite and stone memorial in their honor. The memorial, located on the courthouse lawn, contains inscriptions of each of the fallen soldiers' names, as well as an inscription of John 15:13.
"I had a burning desire to do something special for my father," said Sherry Wright, 55, whose father, Marshall Ball, survived World War II. Ball's three brothers died in action in World War II and the Korean War.
Wright, with the help of 30 committee members, raised the necessary $130,000 for the memorial by selling bricks for $40 each. Today the memorial, which meets Kansas Historical Society standards, is part of a Veterans Day parade, festivities and memorial service in Ottawa.
"I want people to walk away thinking, 'Somebody really cared about the people who lost their lives for them,'" said Wright, a member of First Assembly of God in Ottawa since 1973. "We want our children and grandchildren to remember the freedom we have in God and our country and the price that was paid for that freedom."
Monday, November 11, is Veterans Day.
By Albert H. Lee