By Nancy Gould, Hunter Army Airfield Public AffairsNovember 10, 2010
Fort Stewart, Ga. - Hundreds watched the 250 World War II veterans as they walked or were pushed in wheelchairs through the chilly air to their positions of honor beside the World War II Memorial in Savannah, Nov. 7.
A few looked surprised at the handshakes offered from the cheering crowd; others just smiled at the unaccustomed attention offered along River Street.
Pam Allen, the daughter of two WWII veterans, said she was happy to bring her parents to the event. She wanted them to experience the community's appreciation and to see the monument.
"They don't go out much, especially in weather like this," she said about her 90-year-old mother, Genevieve Rhodes, and her 92-year-old father, Walter Rhodes, both in wheelchairs. "Because of their reticence, I didn't think they were interested, but my mother called me back late to say they would."
The elderly couple held hands throughout most of the ceremony. Their 64-year relationship started at a hospital in England when they were young lieutenants. Walter was a wounded Soldier and Genevieve a dietician. Today's ceremony, and the 20-foot bronze and copper globe, brought back those years to the couple. Genevieve said she was glad they attended the dedication of such an "inspired design."
The monument reminds all citizens of the price of freedom paid by a generation and era forgotten by many.
"We must remember their legacy," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commander-rear. "Tom Brokaw called them the greatest generation. They survived the great depression and war and learned to sacrifice, to conserve resources and to have discipline. The 527 service members from Savannah who died in that war were a part of that generation. They are real sons, fathers and brothers and their names are engraved on the walls of that monument to memorialize their service."
Since its inception, the guiding force behind the monument has been the Chatham County Veterans council. Under the guidance of chairman Bill Quinan, the committee is not far from reaching its million-dollar goal.
"They said it [the monument] couldn't be done," said Quinan. "We are so proud of it."
Quinan said the world-classed monument is for everyone - both tourists and veterans, and he thanked the volunteers and contributors who helped bring it to Savannah. He recognized those volunteers from the podium, including Eric Meyerhoff, the monument's architect.
The monument's theme, "The World Apart," was developed by Meyerhoff to represent the Pacific and European theaters of the war. The dark bronze portion of the globe represents continents; the more golden hues represent water. Bricks are laid around the base of the structure, each engraved with the name of a person who has contributed to the cost of the memorial.
"This was a long time coming," said Marie Brazzeal, a 90-year-old Navy veteran who attended the ceremony with her daughter. "I'm very proud to be here - in more ways than one."
Korean War veteran Dean Phillips agrees. "My father was a World War II vet," he said. "It's nice to see this recognition given to a generation that doesn't normally draw attention to their service. They were a generation of givers; they didn't expect much in return."