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Freedom Tribute opens in Pembroke

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Memorials honor local soldiers who made ultimate sacrifice

Photos by Tom Rivers – A member of the Special Forces Association Parachute Team descends with an American flag near the Pembroke Town Park this afternoon.

PEMBROKE – The Cost of Freedom Tribute opened today in the Pembroke Town Park, the beginning of four days in Genesee County. I took a drive out there because I knew veterans’ groups from Orleans County helped bring the memorial to the area.

I knew the Tribute including a replica of the Moving Wall in honor of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. I went looking for two local names: Rick Engle of Albion and George Fischer of Holley.

Engle was 19 when he was killed in Vietnam on Feb. 21, 1968. I know three of his sisters. Engle’s name is on the 36th panel east, on line 070.

I heard Gary Kent speak at Memorial Day a few years ago. He talked about his childhood friend named George W. Fischer of Holley. Fischer was 22 when he died in Vietnam on Aug. 3, 1968. He is one of eight to die from Holley in Vietnam, giving the community one of the highest per capita death rates from the war in all of the United States. Fischer’s name is located on panel 49 west, on line 004.

The Cost of Freedom Tribute includes sections to other wars. Here, two people look over a display about World War II.

I found the section on the Global War on Terror to be particularly moving. The names of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan are listed in chronological order by order of their deaths.

Orleans County has lost one soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jason Johnston of Albion was 24 when he was killed on Dec. 26, 2009. He died in Afghanistan due to a roadside bomb.

The Cost of Freedom Tribute includes an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The American Legion in Oakfield-Alabama took the lead in bringing the Cost of Freedom Tribute to the area, but several Orleans County veterans’ groups provided donations and manpower for the event.

Today’s opening ceremonies included laying of wreaths by the memorials.

Students look over a memorial that will be dedicated on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Pembroke Town Park.