Hundreds on hand to dedicate veteran memorial wall -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Hundreds on hand to dedicate veteran memorial wall

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Hundreds of East Texas veterans and family members gathered together Monday in Athens, officially dedicating a brand new memorial for veterans.

The memorial wall was constructed at the East Texas Arboretum and lists approximately 9,000 Henderson County veterans' names.

It's something local veterans like Dwayne Garner said they couldn't be more proud of. Garner spent more than eight years overseas with the Air Force, including one year in Vietnam.

"I've got two brothers that are on the wall and I have an uncle that served in World War I," Garner said. "He helped build the Panama Canal. His name is on the wall. Several of my good old friends are on there that are not here with us any longer. Those are the ones I really, really appreciate."

It is that exact reason that Mike Dupree, a son of a late World War II veteran, attended the event, making sure to get his father's name etched into his program.

"Our father, Chester Lee Dupree, he was in World War II," said Mike Dupree of Seven Points. "He was Second Division storming the beaches of Normandy. It's a part of our history. In fact, our father served in the war and a couple of our uncles are up there too. There's a lot of family up here on this wall, all from this county."

Among the hundreds of stories is that of Murchison veteran Bobby Richards, who served with the Navy in Korea.

"I was aboard an aircraft carrier," Richards said. "It was a lot of fun, but it was a lot of running, a lot of work."

Even decades later, veterans said what is most important is to remember.

"I wouldn't have missed it for nothing," said Richards. "It's the best thing they could have for Henderson County and for the veterans here."

"I still get a tear in my eye when the national anthem is played," Garner said. "It's just very moving for me. I know what all the fallen victims have done for us."

Those named on the wall all have ties to Henderson County, with the wall dating all the way back to the Civil War.

Organizers said the wall was designed to be large enough to include future generations as well.

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