By Ms. Kellie Etheridge (IMCOM)August 23, 2010
Lingering rain clouds couldn't keep the crowd away from attending
Fort Knox's Eastman Park and Amphitheater dedication ceremony Saturday.
The amphitheater, which features a seating capacity of more than 1,000, was named after the late Col. Mark Eastman who died July 9, 2009 from brain cancer. Col. Eastman had served as the deputy director of Fort Knox's Mounted Maneuver Battle Lab prior to his death. Eastman's family was on hand for the dedication, which was hosted by Fort Knox's directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
"We honor and we remember the tremendous service of a superb and selfless Army leader," said Fort Knox Commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley. "Col. Eastman was admired as an officer, a friend, a husband, a brother, a nephew, a father, and a brilliant Soldier.
"It's so important to name this after (Col. Eastman) who is the epitome of a family man, who with (his wife) Laura, established a wonderful Army family with (daughter) Jessica, and (sons) Mark and Nolan. It's our greatest hope that our Army families will come here...to have fun, to grow together, and to build wonderful family memories."
The park features the open-air amphitheater with tiered hillside seating, a restrooms, and will also offer a pavilion picnic area. In addition, a boundless playground is also located at the park.
Lt. Gen. Freakley explained that on a "boundless" playground, children with all abilities can learn and play together and gain the proven intellectual, physical, and social developmental benefits of unstructured play without the physical boundaries associated with typical playgrounds. The playground also lends itself to use by exceptional family members, wounded Soldiers, young children, and the elderly.
Maj. Gen. Donald Campbell, the commander of Fort Knox's U.S. Army Recruiting Command, who served with Col. Eastman, was also on hand to pay tribute and help memorialize the park.
"There could not be a more fitting tribute to the life of Col. Mark Eastman," said Maj. Gen. Campbell. "It's fitting first because of its location-(Col. Eastman) spent 25 percent of his career at Fort Knox. Secondly, (he) loved music, playing any instrument he could lay his hands on. Having an amphitheater so that like-talented people can display their talents is quite a tribute. And lastly it's fitting because (he) loved to goof off and horse around."
"It is indeed overwhelming to be here today and witness this wonderful way that you have honored my husband," said a choked-up Laura Eastman. "Mark's life may have ended early but the happiness and love he shared with us run through us still."
"We have experienced trauma, grief, and bereavement over the loss of Mark. But this park restores some beauty and sense of happiness for our family and how special it is to visit a place of joy in his memory. It is a place to celebrate his life," she said. "Thank you for this wonderful tribute to such a deserving man. It is truly a gift for everyone for years to come. Please enjoy."
Following the unveiling of the memorial plaque, jazz musician Chuck Mangione and his band performed on the amphitheater stage