Patriotism, pride and memories filled Goshen Town Hall May 25 when a plaque honoring local men and women who served the U.S. military from 1935 through 1975 was unveiled. About 100 people gathered for the ceremony to view the 4- X 5-foot plaque with 381 names that will be on permanent display in the town hall.
Stories and memories of those who served were as varied as the families on hand to honor the veterans. For Linda Park Scott of the Henderson community in Pike County, the day was a time to recall the sacrifices made by her father and other relatives.
“I was so excited about the ceremony today and about the plaque,” said Scott, whose late father, Joe W. Park, and uncles Oscar Brantley Park and William Byron Park are listed. “So many memories of Daddy were on my mind lately. Seeing his name on the plaque was emotional and made me so proud. He was seriously wounded while fighting in France in 1944. He lost a kidney from his injuries and was told he would never walk again. But he did, and he went on to have a successful career. Men were tough back then.”
Organizers of the program earlier published a book with the names of known service members from the Goshen area. The 120-page book has 381 names with their military branch, service years and more information.
“There’s a high degree of patriotism in this town and the surrounding communities,” said Charles Horn, 72, a native of Goshen and Goshen High School 1965 class president. “In our research for the book, we discovered that since 1935, over 50% of the male students, plus some female students, served our country in the military. I don’t know what the national average is, but I’d say that’s a pretty high percentage.”
Unveiling the plaque was a highlight in the dedication ceremony. Two World War II veterans and former Goshen High School (GHS) students — William Orris (W.O.) Sanders, a former U.S. Army first lieutenant and Army National Guardsman, and Homer Lesueur, a former U.S Navy petty officer second class — did the honors.
“I thought it was tremendous,” said Sanders, a retired farmer and Baptist minister. Lesueur now lives in Hiram, Georgia.
The men smiled as they peered closely at names on the plaque.
“I was 20 years old in 1943 when I went into the Army,” said Sanders, 96. “I felt like it was my patriotic duty to serve our country. I was a farmer before I went into the Army, and I went back to farming when I got home. Pretty much everybody in Goshen was a farmer back then.”
In addition to Horn, other GHS graduates Bill Sanders, Ramon Stroud and Watson Kyzar spearheaded the plaque idea.
“Last October, we started asking for donations to cover the cost of the plaque,” said Pike County Farmers Federation board member Bill Sanders, whose father, W.O. Sanders, is listed on the wall. “The response was overwhelming and heartwarming. Since the plaque and book were finished, we’ve found others who served, and we plan to make additions to the book.”
Horn, who now lives in Montgomery, said he thinks the plaque is especially important.
“It seems like there’s a lot of disrespect for the flag and for those who are serving and have served our country in the military,” he said. “We want the members of our military to know we appreciate them, and they will never be forgotten.”