Dedication of the West Virginia Veterans Memorial

The Caperton Years: 1993-1997

Remarks by Governor Gaston Caperton
Veterans Memorial Dedication
November 11, 1995

To our distinguished guests, to Senator Rockefeller, to our Congressmen Bob Wise, Nick Joe Rahall and Alan Mollohan, to our men and women in uniform and their families, to our veterans, to my fellow West Virginians.

I am honored to share with each of you this special Veterans Day Ceremony when we dedicate this magnificent Veterans memorial. In front of this Capitol stands a statue of President Abraham Lincoln. No words could better express our thoughts and feelings today than those immortal words he spoke at the Gettysburg address:

"From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth."

As Lincoln so eloquently said, it is the soldier above all who has paid the price for our peace and freedom. It is, thus, fitting that we in West Virginia, whose men and women have demonstrated such remarkable patriotism, should dedicate this monument as a memorial to the West Virginia soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifices.

As I looked at each individual name etched on the wall of the memorial, some 10,197 in total, I am reminded that the dedication, courage, patriotism of each of these men and women was born and nurtured in a very special West Virginia way - in our families and communities, in our places of worship, and in our schools.

From these West Virginia hills come a remarkable people.

Let us tell the nation this November 11 that West Virginia's 10,197 men and women who died for their country and West Virginia's veterans made a difference and we are deeply proud of them.

As we dedicate this monument, we will never forget the pain of loss. But in the darkness, we see light. Each veteran we honor today makes us proud to be a West Virginian, proud to be an American. Our nation faces many internal and international crises that will determine our history. Greed and hatred are still with us today, torching our vision of a free and powerful America. But we must continue our battle with a deeply rooted hope and belief in a brighter tomorrow.

Let us pray that we will never again have to erect more monuments in tribute to sacrificed loved ones. Let us hope the words of the Psalm will ring true: "The Lord will give strength unto his people. The Lord will give his people the blessing of peace."

This is the enduring message of our West Virginia Veterans Memorial.

The building of this prominent and meaningful tribute to veterans has been a difficult and demanding campaign, taking 10 years to complete with the painstaking responsibility of raising $2.8 million.

Time does not permit me to honor all the men and women listed in your program who held the vision of this monument close and played a role in its completion. People such as West Virginia's very own P. Joseph Mullins, whose breath-taking design and artistry will forever stand tall on our Capitol grounds. People such as Jim Altmeyer, who first chaired this monumental effort. People such as our most esteemed Senator Robert C. Byrd, who could not be with us today.

I would like to thank all of you, but time does not allow. I would like to honor eight individuals with the highest honor* a governor can bestow for their efforts well above the call of duty - heroic efforts befitting this most heroic day.

Kyle Workman - For years, this Veterans Memorial has been Kyle's holy passion, as he himself describes it. Not only has he sacrificed much as a Vietnam veteran, but he has sacrificed many years of his life caring for this project. I know it is a personal victory for him to realize this day and we honor you, Kyle, for your unending commitment.

Patty Ferrell Workman - Patty not only is married to the Veterans Memorial's executive director, she has been married to this project, as well. She has never received an ounce of compensation for her archival work and general assistance.

Herbert Jones - When this project began to falter, we knew it would take one of West Virginia's best to make it a success. Herbert Jones' leadership abilities are well known and equally important. He has a profound devotion to our veterans. This monument today reflects the pride and soul of Herbert Jones. Herbert, you have our deep appreciation.

Dick Northup - Dick was our fund drive co-chair and his diligence, focus and efficiency really were the glue that held this project together. We appreciate your hard work, Dick.

Senator Oshel Craigo - Oshel, too, carries a deep passion for this project and he is the sole reason for legislative funding. It was his idea to take this before the Legislature and it was his drive that resulted in subsequent support.

Alan Drescher and Rolfe Richmond - Alan has done legal work without charge for the project for 10 years and, likewise, Rolfe has been its unpaid accountant. Both of you gentlemen have given untold hours to keep the memorial fund on track and for that, we thank you.

Buck Harless - There are many contributors to the Veterans Memorial Fund, but by far the most generous is West Virginia's own Buck Harless. When good work is being done. Buck is always at the front.

*Editor's Note: The highest civilian honor the governor can give is a Distinguished West Virginian Award, which was presented to each.

Monuments and Memorials