Busts of war veterans unveiled

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Among those on stage were, from left, Larissa Nunes; her grandmother, Barbara Nunes; Todd's widow, Christy, holding their son, Alex; and family friend, Shawn Jones.

The busts of Staff Sgt. Todd E. Nunes and Sgt. David Hierholzer were unveiled at a moving ceremony Saturday morning in the auditorium of Marshall County High School.

The bust of Staff Sgt. Marcus A. Golczynski is already on display in the library at MCHS, having been unveiled earlier this year.

Marshall County now has the distinction of being the only county in America with three of Operation Never Forget's bronze busts. The statues commemorate the three young men from Marshall County who are among those who have died fighting the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

The people of the County have done an outstanding job of raising the funds needed to complete both of the statues in a short space of time.

County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett, the master of ceremonies, complemented them on this, saying, "It shows your patriotism and desire to honor these young men,"

Each bust costs $4,000. The Golcynski bust was paid for by the Brig. Gen. Shofner Detachment of the Marine Corps League and the International Masonic Order, but the money for the other two has all been raised locally.

People from all sections of community came together to make Saturday's ceremony possible. The Patriot Guard and Rolling Thunder, holding their American flags, lined both sides of the auditorium, serious and silent in their motorcycle leathers.

Lewisburg Mayor Bob Phillips introduced the families. Hierholzer's father, David G. Hierholzer, talked about his son, and Philip Bolton, a friend of the family, also reminisced. They agreed that David always pushed the envelope and wanted to live life to the fullest. Bolton called him "larger than life," and said, "If he was on your team you had a shot at winning." Hierholzer said his son had two chances to join the Coast Guard, but after 9-11 he joined the infantry. Bolton contributed the reason: "He wanted to be on the front lines competing for his country."

Christy Nunes, Todd's widow, talked about her husband and Shawn Jones, who had known Todd since third grade in Chapel Hill, talked about his best friend and read the poem "Death is Nothing At All" by Henry Scott Holland.

Jones' voice broke as he asserted, "I will take the opportunity to teach my children that true heroes are not some fictional character on TV or some athlete who runs down a football field, but they are soldiers like my friend Todd who unselfishly puts everything they have on the line for their County."

"Amen!" cried a member of the audience.

The keynote speaker was retired Col. Larry McKnight, a county commissioner and member of the Tennessee Army National Guard. McKnight spoke eloquently about Nunes and Hierholzer and read out some of the comments that had been sent in honor of the two young men. He concluded his speech by saying, "To the families of Todd and David, our thoughts and prayers are with you, May this tribute today be a constant reminder of two wonderful young men who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that every American is privileged to enjoy. May God bless and continue to comfort you."

Representative Eddie Bass spoke (Senator Ketron had a last-minute emergency which prevented him from attending); prayers were offered by William "Bill" Taylor II and Paul Lucas; and Ed Magee, Operation Never Forget project director talked about the freedoms that our veterans have won - and continue to win - for us.

Regina Foster sang the national anthem, and Terry Jackson performed "God Bless the U.S.A." and "America the Beautiful."

Jackson paused during the latter to bring this particularly apt verse to the audience's attention.

"O beautiful, for heroes proved

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life!"

Edwin Scott, a World War II veteran and former VFW post commander, led the pledge of allegiance.

Special thanks were given to A Victorian Melody for furnishing the flowers, to Lewisburg Printing for printing the program free of charge, and to the radio stations WJJM and WAXO for publicizing the event and contributing to the fund-raising efforts.