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Park dedicated in veterans' honor

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
The vision Chris Ozbirn had for the Franklin County Veterans' Park finally became a reality Friday afternoon.
More than six years after first establishing the county archives and research center in the old health department building in Russellville, Ozbirn saw the official unveiling of the veterans park Friday.
"This is something that I always wanted to see to honor the men and women from Franklin County who served our country," Ozbirn said.
The park includes monuments from past wars including the current War on Terror and a walkway with engraved bricks.
"This is a great way to remember these special Americans – both living and who have gone on to Heaven – for defending our freedom," said State Sen. Roger Bedford.
The veterans' park began as a way to honor the local 115th Signal Battalion who spent more than a year deployed to Iraq.
Skip Nichols, of Russellville, conceived the idea and later saw its completion as a way to also honor his mother, Frances Nichols, who worked tirelessly at the archives before her death.
Russellville Mayor Troy Oliver, a retired Army general, told the crowd gathered at the park's dedication that many Americans take freedom for granted.
"The Bible says that greater love hath no man than to give his life for a friend," Oliver said. "These veterans have shown that in the most committed way."
Sgt. Major Steve Boatwright, with the 161st Alabama Army National Guard, echoed Oliver's sentiments that the park will serve as a true reminder of the freedom we have because of others' service.
"Freedom isn't free," he said. "It's not a right, it's a privilege and we have it because people have sacrificed themselves so we can have it."