HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Retired Navy Veteran Clarence “Bud” Johnson was invited to speak with the Mountain Movers and Shakers Friday, June 28, and the 97-years-young World War 2 veteran used the opportunity to encourage visits to the one-of-a-kind Iwo Jima memorial at Foster Park in Young Harris, adjacent to Towns County Recreation and Conference Center.
The sculpture, which was officially dedicated to all veterans Nov. 11, 2015, deplicts the 1945 raising of the American flag upon Mount Suribachi by five United States Marines and a Navy Corpsman during the bloody battle of Iwo Jima. The unique memorial was created by sculptor Al Garnto, a kinetic artist, from Blairsville, GA. The exhibit was commissioned by former Towns County Commissioner Bill Kendall Sept. 11, 2015.
“If you’re a veteran, no matter when you served or where you served, you belong here, and you deserve to be respected by the people around you,” Johnson said. Johnson, a well-loved community hero, was joined by Veterans Field Servive Officer Eddie Fontaine who spoke on topics related to Georgia’s Department of Veterans Services.
Additionally, Johnson shared information on Towns County’s memorial wall, located east of Hiawassee near Towns County Schools, and informed the group that the families of all honorably discharged veterans residing in Towns County, native or otherwise, are welcome to submit their departed loved one’s name to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4807 for memorialized inscription. The cost to engrave the monument is $65, and new names are dedicated each fall.