One small Kentucky town is making a big gesture, showing appreciation for service and sacrifice.
Henderson community members are making a visible effort to honor fallen troops, turning Central Park into a field of remembrance, putting crosses across the grounds.
For Ben Frederick and his grandfather Carl, the armed forces is a family affair.
“My grandfather was in the military. My grandfather’s father was in the military. My grandmother’s dad was in the military,” Ben recounted.
Ben was one of a number of volunteers taking their time, placing markers one by one. Over 5000 crosses were put up total, each inscribed with the name of a loved one who served in the military.
The gesture is something that Carl appreciates on a personal level.
“I worked on the caskets,” he recalled, “and I call them the casket planes. That’s the one bringing these men and women back that did not survive the war.”
This act of honor is a joint effort between the American Legion Cross Fund and the WARM Center in preparation for Memorial Day.
Every year, about one hundred more crosses are added for Henderson County service members who have passed.
“We went through and made sure all the names were properly placed on there, some we’ve added in,” said Tonya Nickson of the WARM Center. “Then they were washed, dried. The flowers that will be placed have all been washed, dried, by hand by all the WARM Center girls.”
These crosses join other more permanent memorials in the park dedicated to veterans of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and one for all military branches.
But for those taking time to set up today, it goes beyond simply adding more markers.
“We were told not to even wear our uniforms coming back from ‘Nam, from Southeast Asia. They would spit on us. Today we honor them. And I think that’s great. We treat veterans so much better, and that’s awesome,” Carl stated.
Starting May 13, local musicians will begin playing “Taps” here each night until Memorial Day.
That will take place around 7:00, as the sun goes down, and park lights come up.