Honoring those who stand and wait

By the end of this week — that is, by Christmas Day — another 1,500 U.S. Marines will be on the ground in Afghanistan as part of the surge which President Obama ordered this month.

Victoria Turney knows how they feel. And how their families feel.

Turney, who lives in Cobb County, retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years, including deployments to Japan and to the Middle East as part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Now her son is a Marine sergeant who has served two tours in Iraq and may go to Afghanistan next.

“Now I’m on the other side, and I didn’t realize what my parents were going through when I was overseas, be it during peacetime or during conflict,” Turney says. “Just getting a voice mail or an e-mail from my son, no matter how brief — you keep the voice mail as long as you can because that is their voice.”

This understanding of the two sides of absence has driven Turney to pursue a new monument in Marietta — a statue to honor “those who wait behind for those who protect, serve, support and defend our freedoms.”

“We have that ultimate sacrifice in our heads,” Turney says of soldiers and their families. “But what about just [smaller] sacrifices? Every family sacrifices when their [loved ones], no matter what age, are not at home.”

And not only military families: The monument will also honor the families of law enforcement officers and first responders.

“It’s about the fireman who kisses his child goodbye in the morning and goes to work,” Turney says, “but it’s a different kind of work — putting others above himself.”

foreverremember2The monument will be a life-size bronze statue of a woman with windswept hair and a flag pressed against her chest. It’s a project of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, for which Turney serves as president. The goal is to dedicate it at next year’s Fourth of July parade.

The statue will stand just off the Marietta Square and will be called “Forever Remember.” It will be a reminder for those who don’t sacrifice directly, and a place to reflect for those who do.

A co-chair of the project, Clark Hungerford, whose oldest son served two tours in Afghanistan, says “it would have been nice to have a park like the one where Forever Remember will be, to reflect on how proud we were of his service to his country and also to pray for the safety of him and his comrades over there.”

The design was inspired in part by Turney’s service in the Marine Corps’ funeral detail for metro Atlanta.

There would be the normal rites and salutes. “Then I would present the folded flag to the family on behalf of a grateful nation,” she says. “And when you hand that flag to somebody, I don’t care [if they’re] young, old, male, female, they push it into their chest. They cannot get enough of that flag; they cannot get it close enough….

“That’s their last physical piece of their person.”

The woman in the statue, which is being built by a Utah-based artist named Dennis V. Smith, represents no particular era or region. Only 12 life-size statues will be built before Smith breaks the mold (though he may make and sell more smaller replicas) and only one statue may be erected in a single state. Pictures and more information are available at www.ForeverRemember.us.

While the statue is intended to help us remember the past and present, Turney says it’s important to see that the woman is looking to the future.

“She shows hope, she shows a commitment, she shows character. And I truly believe she speaks to the character of our community.”

***

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16 comments Add your comment

SaneDem

December 18th, 2009
9:11 pm

We should be honoring our troops, not filibustering funding for them, like Johnny Isakson.

quod erat demonstrandum

December 18th, 2009
10:32 pm

We are in a great hurry to honor the troops serving, unselfishly. We MUST also honor the wives, husbands and parents of those who have taken up this task.

My son is not serving alone, his wife is, his little girl is, his sister, his mother and I am. we may not be there in country with him, we are not facing the same dangers as he is, but we serve just the same.

Southern Comfort

December 19th, 2009
8:33 am

I pray for Victoria Turney and all other families who have loved one’s overseas as well as those who serve in and out of uniform in defense of this great nation. I think that it is a fantastic idea to have a place where people can go and reflect on the sacrifices made each and every day by everyday common people.

For those who suit up every day in defense of the Constitution of the United States as well as the family of those who do, you have my utmost respect and admiration.

Proud American

December 19th, 2009
9:25 am

Every day as I pray I ask God to protect our troops and to bless thier families. Prior to the Recession , I was flying in an out of the Atlanta airport and I would make it a point to thank as many soldiers as I could. Originally I did this to show support for what they were going to do or had done, but then I realized that I identified with them and the ones they were leaving behind so that we all may be free.

Patriotic in Loganville, Ga

December 19th, 2009
10:10 am

My prayer this season is for the Vets that are retired—-that they know they are appreciated
for the gift of freedom they gave us and that in their hearts they can find peace and harmony
and stand up for Patriotism like never before! We live in the greatest country on earth!

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

December 19th, 2009
10:30 am

Kyle, you’re about the only reason anyone should even read the AJC.

Jess

December 19th, 2009
10:56 am

I just hope and pray that the freedom and liberty these people fight and die to protect will weather the current storm.

jconservative

December 19th, 2009
11:49 am

Nice column Kyle. And to the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, nice project folks.

When I went off to the Army in 1968 my Mom said my father really had a hard time for a few months. Then my son went off the the Navy in 1998,
and I had a hard time for a few months. Learning to cope with the ever present fear is the hurdle.

One tired American

December 19th, 2009
1:39 pm

Great idea! More power to Turney in her efforts! This would also be a great community service project for school clubs and organizations.

libtard

December 19th, 2009
6:33 pm

illegal war , illegal prezident

@@

December 20th, 2009
9:14 am

What a wonderful piece, Kyle! This part really hit home.

The design was inspired in part by Turney’s service in the Marine Corps’ funeral detail for metro Atlanta.

There would be the normal rites and salutes. “Then I would present the folded flag to the family on behalf of a grateful nation,” she says. “And when you hand that flag to somebody, I don’t care [if they’re] young, old, male, female, they push it into their chest. They cannot get enough of that flag; they cannot get it close enough….

“That’s their last physical piece of their person.”

That’s ^^^ likely why so many are offended when they see “that physical piece” (The American Flag) desecrated in protest. I would never deny them their freedom of expression, but they really should remember who died to protect that freedom.

Finally

December 20th, 2009
11:47 am

I am so glad to see this. As a child of a Vietnam Vet I have been a bit dismayed that we have lauded (and appropriately so!) the families of military servicemen being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan while forgetting the price paid by those children who watched their fathers go off to Vietnam.

We were left here to deal with horrible comments about our fathers… no support groups… no email or cell phone contact. It was hell. And those who did not go through it brushed it off and acted as though they could care less that my father and the fathers of hundreds of thousands of children were left here in silence at the holidays. It was almost as if we were an embarrassment.

I am SO not bashing the families of servicemen who are suffering this Christmas… In fact I understand their plight readily. I just don’t want people to forget that it was not always like this. My father was not considered a hero because he fought in Vietnam. My family was not warmly embraced by the community at the holidays because so many of our friends and neighbors did not agree with the war or simply did not understand the effects of having a parent on the other side of the world and your not being able to communicate with them.

At least this statue and what it represents helps me and other kids of my military generation know that we were not so alone after all.

I wish all of our troops and their families a happy holiday. Come home safe. It’s the best gift you can give your children.

Art at Large

December 20th, 2009
1:51 pm

Do you REALLY want to honor our Veterans, and their long-suffering families?
The statue is a fine, worthy idea.
But I have a better one.
Make sure that our soldiers are not asked to fight in any more wars-of-choice, and that when they do fight, make sure that we aren’t distracted from the goal by some zealous idiot.
Iraq should never have happened, and Afghanistan would have been done with by now, except for the tragic diversion of resources to Iraq.

dewstarpath

December 20th, 2009
3:52 pm

BREAKING NEWS (off topic):

– Actress Brittany Murphy (born in Atlanta), 32, found dead at her home
in Los Angeles. R.I.P.

http://wwww.accessatlanta.com/celebrities-tv/248883.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm

dewstarpath

December 20th, 2009
3:57 pm

dewstarpath

December 20th, 2009
4:06 pm