On November 11, 2009, the Laurens County Commissioners officially rededicated the monuments around the Laurens County Courthouse.  The ladies of the Dublin Garden Club and the Erin Garden Club raised more than $8,000.00 to enhance the memorials with pavers and flowers.  The county erected new flag poles on both sides of the courthouse square.

Mary Jane Spivey                                                      Dr. Jack Brown, VA Chaplain

     Laurens County Historical Society President Scott B. Thompson, Sr. addressed the crowd on the history of the monuments.

     Tens of thousands of Laurens Countians have answered the call to serve our nation.

     We come here today to honor those 193 men who have given their lives in the defense of our freedoms.

     The monuments around us honor those who gave their lives during both World Wars and the wars in Korea and Vietnam. A single monument honors Sgt. Dewey Johnson, who was one of eight Americans who died in the failed attempt to rescue Americans held hostage in Iran in 1980.

     Regrettably, there are more. Going way back to the War of 1812 and possibly during the Indian and Mexican wars in which Laurens Countians gave the last full measure of devotion.

     There are many more who have lost their lives during the years between our armed conflicts.

     Perhaps it is fitting and only proper that today, the citizens of our county honor these fallen heroes as well by adding their names to a new monument, a monument to the brave heroes of peace time.

     The process of honoring veterans who lost their lives in military service began in 1921 when the United Daughters of the Confederacy honored the fallen heroes of World War I.

      In 1947, as the last of the bodies of Americans killed in Europe and Asia were being brought back to Laurens County for burial, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the many others erected a monument to honor the true heroes of World War II.

     It would be another thirty plus years before the community erected another monument. In the late 1970s, the American Legion Post No. 17, led by its former commanders Wendell Zeigler and H. Dale Thompson, decided it had been too long since the end of the wars in Korea and Vietnam without having a monument to honor those who died in those wars.

Scott B. Thompson, Sr. - President, Laurens County Historical Society

     To show how our community responds to a call to honor these heroic men, my father, Dale Thompson, was able to raise all of the necessary funds to erect this monument with a series of phone calls in a single morning.

     Following the tragic death of Sgt. Dewey Johnson in his attempt to save the lives of others, his memory was honored with a monument which has now joined in line with those servicemen of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

     I along with all of you hope that Dewey Johnson’s name will be the last name inscribed on these monuments on the square. We all know that it won’t. What we do know is that when the time comes and that time is right this minute, there are Laurens Countians around the world protecting our freedoms.

     The price of freedom is a heavy one. More will die. We can not change that. What we can do is to continue to honor these heroes and all veterans, not only on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but on every day of every year until the end of time.

     We can and must pray for the continued safety of our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.

     And, when the time comes to build another monument and inscribe names upon it, that we do so with no hesitation or reservation.

     I would like to leave you today with the lyrics of a song written by Mac Davis and performed by Gary Puckett. A little more than a year ago I got a chance to talk to Gary, who sold more records in1968 than the Beatles and Elvis Presley. He told me he has to sing this song, adding too many men never came home and those who did, did not receive a proper welcome.

Every night they lie awake

and dream of mama's chocolate cake

And wonder if they'll be a tomorrow

And will they ever see their home and their family

Or will they ever be back home

And boys who never learned to pray

Look to the heavens everyday

And stumble through a simple little prayer

And ask the Lord above

To send them home to the ones they love

Oh God I hope they make it home

And every day some young man dies

And in the night some young girl cries

He'll never hear his baby's laughter

He'll never ever see his home and his family

Or what he's done for you and me

But I guess he's on his way back home