Dedicated to all the men and women who paid the ulitmate price in service to their country. This nation was conceived in liberty and built upon these sacrifices over the centuries. If this country stands for one shining ideal, it is on our unwavering belief stated best by Thomas Jefferson "that all men are created equal." These are hardly hollow words, but a powerful concept for which Americans are willing to shed our blood in defense of freedom everywhere.
As you pause at this fountain to reflect on these thoughts, we want you to consider the thought process that is fundamental to its design:
The stainless steel five-point star is representative of the strength, purity and protection provided by the shield and sword of America's military. In viewing the collection of the colored stone, notice the variation in color symbolizing all the branches of the United States Armed Forces - Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. It is important to remember that the motivations that inspire men and women to answer the call of duty to their country are numerous and personal. However, one commonality unites their life-changing decision - acquiescence to liberty's basic question: "Am I my brother's keeper?"
The two rocks jutting forth from the star were quarried in the Ozark Mountains. Representative of our native bedrock, this foundation gives birth to generations of Americans in two distinctive manners. Whether immigrant or native-born - as citizens we rest in the assurance that freedom is our American birthright. It is the continual quest for independence that unites us all. Pause a moment to consider how this very diversity of origin has made the American experiment with democracy so unique on the stage of world history. As you watch the sunlight catch the water spilling forth onto the star, think of water's availability as an abundant, free-flowing resource. By incorporating that imagery to define America's unlimited gift of freedom, the fountain ultimately symbolizes what we offer from our very soul - a source of support that flows through our military to our citizenry and then spills over our shores. It is the intent of the design to not contain the fountain's flow with a traditional basin. Since our own bid for independence over two hundred years ago, our leaders have pledged our assistance in defense of people from every corner of the world who suffer from oppression and tyranny. This pledge cannot be stated more eloquently than it was by President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, sup- port any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
For all of you who have gathered at this park to con- template America's military past, let us never forget that the price of liberty is, indeed, eternal vigilance. What unites us is far more powerful than that which divides. It is the sincere hope of all those who have been involved in the vision, planning and construction of Ascension Veterans Memorial Park that it will become a place of honor, celebration, remembrance and hope for all who visit.