Monument for Liberty and Peace
New Veteran's Memorial in Abingdon, Va.
By DEBRA McCOWN | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | November 15, 2010*** Published Saturday, Nov. 12 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***
ABINGDON, Va. – At 12 feet high, it towers above neighboring monuments at Veterans Memorial Park: The Liberty-Peace tree, unveiled Thursday during a Veterans' Day ceremony.
Affixed to the 7.5-ton slab of granite is a tree done in brass, with roots symbolizing the five branches of the U.S. armed forces and 22 leaves bearing peace written in languages from around the world.
Emmitt Yeary, president and chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, in dedicating the monument, called on the memory of the Liberty Tree, which became a symbol of freedom during the American Revolution, and also the desire for peace that's best known by soldiers who've suffered in battle.
In addition to the tree, the monument includes a dove, the centuries-old symbol of peace that George Washington hung atop the cupola of his estate. But centuries ago, the philosopher Plato also left a saying that's endured through the ages: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
"The Liberty-Peace Tree monument symbolizes the hope, dream and prayer of our military veterans and our American servicemen and women for liberty and peace to prevail throughout the world," Yeary said. "May Plato be proven wrong."
The keynote speaker at Thursday's ceremony, retired Maj. Gen. James Archer, said that since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the nation has lost some of the respect once held for its leaders and institutions – a development that should be of concern.
Harkening back to the Greatest Generation, which fought and won World War II, he said today's servicemen and women are as dedicated now as in the past.
"In the increasing din of modern media, naysayers and selfish people, they continue to stand watch selflessly, fighting and dying for our right to be different and disagree while preserving our freedoms and our way of life," Archer said.
"In addition to providing for their physical needs, we owe it to them on the home front to respect and preserve our democracy, based upon compromise and mutual respect, so that they may return to a land worthy of their sacrifice."
Members of the Sons of the American Revolution, Overmountain Victory Trail Association display the colors during Abingdon Veterans Day ceremony. (Earl Neikirk/Bristol Herald Courier)