JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek Veterans Association formally dedicated a plaza along Veterans Memorial Walk to the memory of those who served in Afghanistan.
The ceremony, held Saturday at Newtown Park, included an outdoor gathering of residents and veterans. The event was conducted by Michael Mizell, president of the Johns Creek Veterans Association.
“This is the first time we have had a dedication ceremony specifically for sponsoring the Afghanistan Plaza and to honor specifically those military personnel who were assigned duties there, but also to honor the combat support and combat service support elements to make it a success as they support the war fighters on the ground” Mizell said. “This says, ‘well done and welcome home,’”
Mizell also presented the ceremony’s speaker and local honoree, Col. Graham White, who spoke about his time in Afghanistan and the significance of remembering those who fought. As a career officer, White has spent nine tours in Afghanistan and remains on active duty. This year marks the 20th anniversary of our troops’ initial deployment to the country sparked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. America’s involvement in the war is officially set to expire on Aug. 31, marking Afghanistan as the longest running war in U.S. history.
“Afghanistan matters to Americans because freedom matters to America…but it is far from free,” White said. “I know the veterans of this campaign to be a very proud lot…In my opinion, they should be. This was a long and complicated war…This monument represents people who made a conscience decision to do America’s bidding.”
Like the previous plazas placed in the Veterans Memorial Walk, the Afghanistan plaza centers around a black granite monument containing images and the year in which it began. The trail includes monuments paying homage to America’s major wars beginning with WW I in addition to special monuments dedicated to Purple Heart recipients, POW/MIAs, and women in service. Sponsored by the Veterans Association, the entire memorial is constructed through donations.
“Our communities need to do more to honor the promises made to our veterans, many of whom come home with physical and emotional scars that they will carry for the rest of their lives,” Mizell said. “We in the community of the 99 percent owe everything to these great warriors who represent the 1 percent… I think we can never forget what our men and women in uniform represent and guarantee for every citizen in our country.”