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Veterans memorial dedicated at Shelbyville High School

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The Veterans Memorial that honors the lives of Shelbyville High School graduates who lost their lives serving the country was dedicated Friday morning. The memorial sits in front of J.M. McKeand Stadium.
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Major Jamison C. Bowman Jr. gives the keynote address during Friday morning’s Veterans memorial dedication.
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The Shelbyville High School Choral Chamber Ensemble performs “My Country Tis of Thee” at the ceremony.
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Current students, faculty members and veterans were among those who attended the Veterans memorial dedication.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

Whenever he drove past the Shelby County Courthouse on Memorial Day, Shelbyville Central Schools Superintendent Dr. David Adams often found himself wondering how many of the crosses displayed represented a Shelbyville High School alum.

From that thought came an idea: a memorial honoring all SHS alumni who died while serving their country.

Friday’s veteran memorial dedication brought an end to a lengthy process that sent SCS employees combing through the records looking for school alumni who went on to be killed in battle; using Facebook and The Shelbyville News to ask for the community’s help in finding those alums; and school board members deciding on what type of memorial the school should install.

The memorial, which is called a military cross from World War II and sits in front of J.M. McKeand Stadium, is of a soldier’s combat helmet sitting on top of a rifle that sticks up from combat boots.

The plaque reads “This memorial is dedicated to the military veterans of Shelbyville High School by the SCS Education Foundation and the SCS Board of School Trustees.”

For the ceremony, a pair of wreathes, bushes and flowers adorned the memorial, which also includes a quote from President Harry Truman and lists the names of the 51 alumni who died in battle.

“Sometimes it seems surreal,” Adams said after the ceremony. “You hear the names of people killed in action and so we thought it would be good. We thought that would be a good area because every Friday people can go by. We want our kids to see, as they go to events, the names of all these former Shelbyville students, who gave their lives.”

Major Jamison C. Bowman Jr. gave the keynote address.

In it, he spoke about other memorials around the country and around the world that honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives.

“All of our families are praying for troops who are deployed,” he said. “Right now, this memorial unites us to the present of our military. The future can also meet us here at this memorial. You see, the hallowed halls of education, they eventually sometimes meet the battlefield.”

Students, staff members, veterans and other community members attended the ceremony and were met with sunny skies and windy conditions.

Bowman encouraged students who are considering entering the military to seek God’s wisdom.

“When you put on that uniform, it’s saying you’re willing to give your life for your country if need be,” he said.

He asked what made the United States military different from others around the world. And as an example, he noted that at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, a small chapel built by Italian prisoners of war still stands. He said that the fact that the U.S. military allowed prisoners of war to build a chapel and serve their God shows the United States has an “ethical standard.”

“There are many fine militaries around the world,” he said. “But we believe in something greater as a nation. We believe in just causes and ethics in America.”

He said war memorials help “intersect the past, the past and the future.”

“A beautiful memorial like this does help us meet the past and the individuals who have shaped this nation,” he said.

The administration and high school worked with the Shelbyville Central Education Foundation in the process.

Adams estimated the entire process took as much as 11/2 years from start to finish. The research into finding the names took months, he said, and leftover materials from the football stadium’s renovation were used.

He said the school board selected the World War II design because the majority of alumni who died while serving fought in that war.

“This memorial will honor, in a very public way, former students who fought for our freedoms and securities,” Principal Kathleen Miltz said during the ceremony. “These are veterans who walked the halls of Shelbyville High School and lived in our community. This memorial will keep their memory and dedication present and real for present and future generations of our students, so that the importance of their service, is never forgotten.”