The American flag, along with flags representing the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, prisoners of war and the Air Force, slowly waved back and forth in the wind Thursday afternoon at the Omega Veterans Memorial Park.
The park has made a complete turnaround with the help of many locals, including Omega Mayor Ray Hunt Jr. and city workers.
An arrangement of patriotic red, white and blue flowers sat atop the park’s monument with a slab honoring veterans who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped out with re-doing the park,” said Bill Johnson, who was instrumental in bringing the park back to life. “I would like to thank the mayor for allowing the city workers to work out here. They did a lot of landscaping. It (the park) was a mess to start with, but it looks real good now. Thank you to all that helped.”
Johnson retired from the Marine Corps after 22 1/2 years of service and moved to Omega over 35 years ago. He noted, with a smile, Thursday that it was the Marine Corps 236th anniversary.
“Anyone who is a veteran that would like to come out here tomorrow to stand and say a prayer for all those in service, who have been in service and who have passed on already, they’re welcome to come any time,” Johnson stated. “We still have a lot of soldiers serving. I would like to pray for them and their family.”
Johnson, remembering his time as a soldier, said that times have changed. He said back when he was serving, he was getting off a plane in California returning from Vietnam and he’ll never forget the offensive comments people made when he was walking off that plane.
“We were told that we were ‘baby killers’ and they threw things at us,” Johnson reminisced. “I’ll never forget it. No one thanked us then, but that has changed and I’m glad. People are now behind everyone despite the war.”
Johnson and several others, including Shirley Marchant and Rubye Meders, have been working on the Veterans Park since some years back and are proud of the results.