Local residents gathered at the Eisenhower Veterans Monument Saturday to honor the sacrifice of local veterans. Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum introduced Luther Johnson of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 612 for a prayer at the annual ceremony dedicating bricks engraved with the names of local veterans.

Local residents gathered at the Eisenhower Veterans Monument Saturday to honor the sacrifice of local veterans. Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum introduced Luther Johnson of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 612 for a prayer at the annual ceremony dedicating bricks engraved with the names of local veterans.


"Let us remember that freedom has never been free," Johnson said. "Lord, teach us to honor the sacrifices of those that came before us."


Bynum explained that bricks are added to the monument’s base "on an annual basis to honor veterans." This year volunteers added 105 new bricks to the monument. The weekend ceremony was scheduled to celebrate the birthday of 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born in Denison on Oct. 14, 1890.


In addition to the brick dedication at the monument, there were several other activities throughout Denison focused on the Denison-born president. An "I Like Ike" 5K was held near the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site. The site offered visitors free tours and reenactors demonstrated parachute packing and showed off their historic military vehicles.


At the Perrin Field Museum, WWII veterans were on hand to meet and greet guests.


The Denison Middle School Band volunteered their Saturday morning to honor the assembled veterans at the Eisenhower Monument with a performance of the national anthem and a medley of patriotic tunes from "America the Beautiful" to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."


"I enjoyed it all, but I really liked that band," said Billy Dockery, a World War II veteran from Trenton who attended the ceremony for the first time this year. "It brought back some old memories. I especially enjoyed meeting some of the veterans."


Dockery sat in the front row during the proceedings, next to one of his "best friends," William Vaught of Bonham. Vaught, 91, is also a WWII veteran and attended the ceremony for the first time this year. "I sure did enjoy it," Vaught said. "I appreciate it very much; it’s very nice. I did jump when they shot those guns. Any loud noise, I jump, but I tell ‘em, I’m not nervous, I’m quick!"


Bynum introduced Bill Lindsay, who is also a veteran, to read a proclamation from the city of Denison. "Now and forever let us pay tribute to all veterans for their legacy of commitment and sacrifice," the proclamation says. The most commonly used word in the ceremony was "sacrifice," and the somber atmosphere seemed to reflect the respect and gratitude for the veterans present.


Jeff Harrell, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron, brought his group of cadets out in uniform to honor the veterans. "I have four of my cadets here today to show our respect for our veterans," Harrell said, "to say ‘Thank you for your service to our country.’ We brought cards that thank them for their service, and I encouraged them (the cadets) to meet some of the veterans."


The Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 612 donated a granite bench to the monument. After the ceremony, veterans and their family members posed for photographs on the stone bench, which is inscribed with the words, "All gave some — some gave all."