Dauphin lsland Veterans’ Association
On Dauphin lsland, Ala., there is a small but active Veterans’ Association. Our members consist of old and young, ranging from a World War II PT boat engineer to recent military retirees. Most of the members belong to American Legion Post 250. Over the past decade, the Dauphin lsland Veterans’ Association (DIVA) completed projects to honor our passed brothers and sisters.
Our first project, a 40-foot Mardi Gras float, was designed to represent Old Glory with stars, stripes, a DIVA emblem and decorated with the American flag and service flags to proudly represent each uniformed service of the United States. Dauphin lsland is the host of three parades each year and DIVA actively participates in these events.
Another project, a Memorial Wall monument, consists of two wall sections with a large stainless steel eagle between them - appropriately named "FREEDOM." The Memorial Wall displays metal plaques for deceased veterans of the various uniformed services. After the wall, a separate fundraiser purchased a 40-foot flagpole to fly old Glory and the POW/MIA flags. At this site, we hold ceremonies on appropriate patriotic holidays. These ceremonies attract numbers of local and visiting supporters. Local media coverage is normally present. Local ministers participate by providing solemn prayers to open and close the activities. The national Anthem is sung, the Pledge of Allegiance is led by the local troop of Trail Life USA Scouts, and Taps is played when we add a veteran’s name to the Memorial Wall. The veterans' families who are being honored are presented an engraved shadow box with an American flag inside.
Our association motto is "We Serve Those Who Served." Our latest project, a Fallen Soldier Statue, was proposed to honor the men and women who heard the call of duty and gave their all. The project started as an idea in late February 2O16. The association members liked the idea, but it raised questions about funding and where to place the proposed statue. Research of the Internet revealed a source and estimated statue cost. Next we had to obtain the necessary donations to fund the project and determine where the statue could be erected. A project manager was assigned the task to make it happen. With the support of the mayor and council members, the Town of Dauphin lsland authorized DIVA to place the Fallen Soldier Statue in front of town hall. Almost $3,000 for the statue was donated by proud citizens placing one dollar at a time in coffee cans placed in local Island businesses. The remaining $4,800 was collected at the DIVA annual Chili Cook off. After a great effort, the statue was found and ordered from the Large Art Company Inc. of Baltimore.
Our association decided that the completed statue would be unveiled during a ceremony on the 4th of July 2016. DIVA is proud of the citizens of Dauphin Island and Island visitors who came from as far away as Canada to observe the dedication ceremony. The people opened their hearts and wallets to make this memorial possible. July 4th came with a large crowd assembled to see what object was covered up at the town hall.
A great statue entitled the “PATRIOT” stood 8 feet tall, and all were very proud of the completed project. Contained in the statue base is a granite plaque inscribed with strong words that may make you salute or shed a tear. The statue now belongs to the people of Dauphin lsland and our great country. No one can predict the future. Old veterans will pass, new members will join, but the statues "PATRIOT" and "FREEDOM" will show that a strong Veterans’ Association was here, who never forgot those who heard the call of duty and gave their all.