By Christopher Smith
To Vietnam veteran Harrison Parker, the Murray County Veterans Memorial Park on Hyden-Tyler Road — where veterans from several wars are honored with inscribed bricks and monuments — is “the cat’s meow.”
The park is important to local servicemen and women, Parker said, adding that Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford has been a key part of the park’s success.
Parker, representing the Murray County Veterans organization, recognized Langford’s contribution by handing him two framed photos of a gun salute from the Memorial Day event at the park held this year. Parker met with Langford at his office Monday morning.
“I hope this shows some of our gratitude,” he told Langford. “You can just look up and see it whenever you want.”
Parker said Langford’s work in adding an Honor Guard program through the sheriff’s office will be a boon for local veterans’ families. Honor guards, sometimes called ceremonial guards, are trained volunteers who provide funeral honors like gun salutes and marches for veterans. Those services extend to any memorial event including holidays.
Langford has also worked closely with Larry “Red” Swanson on veteran-related events and helped out at the Memorial Day event, Parker added.
“The sheriff just hopped right on and did what we asked for,” Parker said. “He took it on himself to help us out. We saw the pictures after they were done and thought it’d be good to give them to him. It’s the least we can do.”
Though never serving in the military himself, Langford said both Memorial Day and Veterans Day are special to him and his family.
“My father was in World War II and had six brothers in at the same time,” he said. “When I was growing up we always went to honor the veterans ... we (continue) to honor veterans from this county who went to war and didn’t come back and the ones who did.”
Langford added he has some ancestors on his mother’s side who fought in the Civil War.
Parker, a member of the local American Legion who works on the committee overseeing the park, said he hopes to expand the park by Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
“This Memorial Day we dedicated part of the park to the American Gold Star Mothers (mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war),” Parker said. “This fall we hope to honor veterans from the war in Afghanistan, the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Langford said he will look into possibly refurbishing a military Humvee for the Veterans Day Parade.
The Murray County Sheriff’s Office offers an Honor Guard program for fallen soldiers who lived in the Chatsworth area. Honor guards, sometimes called ceremonial guards, are trained volunteers who provide funeral honors like gun salutes and marches for veterans. Those services extend to any memorial event including holidays.