Annual Memorial Day program set for Sunday, May 26

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2019

Dawn Burleigh, Editor

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


A long-standing tradition of honoring those who served and gave their lives in defense of their country will continue this Sunday afternoon in Orange.

The 16th annual Memorial Day tribute to Orange County Veterans will be held at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, May 26, at Heritage Veterans Memorial Plaza, 3810 MLK Drive in Orange, located at First Church of the Nazarene. The public is invited to attend this special event.

Heritage Veterans Memorial Plaza is built around the life-size bronze sculpture “Tears from a Grateful Heart,” designed by Scott Stearman of Colorado and includes the names of numerous veterans from Orange County.

Tears From a Grateful Heart

He was recognized as a finalist for the John Maxwell Leadership Award. His commissioned Military monuments and Faith sculptures are found at universities and in communities across America.

Stearman’s many portrait sculptures include projects featuring James Dobson, Ben Carson, Elizabeth Dole, Kirk Cameron, Truitt Cathy, Ravi Zacharias, and many others.

He has served as the video director for concerts by Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Glenn Campbell, Sean Hannity, Michael W. Smith, and the Gaither Homecoming Tour.

Working in television and film since the 1970s and as a professional sculptor since 1985, Stearman approaches his work with an artist’s eye and a sensitive heart; always looking for the truth of the story that many times lies beneath the surface of the obvious.

Fletcher Class Destroyer USS DYSON (DD 572)

The plaza also features the bell from the USS Dyson, which was donated by Orange-native Eugene Goudeau, who served aboard the USS Dyson (DD-572) in World War II from December 1942 until December 1945. The USS Dyson, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was built at Consolidated Steel in Orange.

The event has become a highly attended program in the Orange community as scores of people turn out to remember those who died in defense of their country, as well as participate in the patriotic tribute to all veterans and those who are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Ribbons awarded to Colonel Curtis

Colonel Thomas J. Curtis, USAF retired, a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam is this year’s guest speaker.

He is also a contributor to Under the Cover of Light: The Extraordinary Story of USAF COL Thomas “Jerry” Curtis’s 7 1/2 -Year Captivity in North Vietnam written by Carole Engle Avriett.

Curtis attended University of Houston, Troy State University, Alabama and graduated from Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas.

In 1954, Curtis received his wings and commission through Aviation Cadet Program at Bryan Air Base in Texas.

While flying a combat search and rescue mission, on September 20, 2965, in North Vietnam attempting the rescue of an F-105 pilot, Curtis’ helicopter was shot down.

He was subsequently captured and interned in various North Vietnamese prisons until his release seven and a half years later on February 12, 1973.

His military decorations include the Air Force Cross, Bronze Star, Air Force Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart.

The annual event also features the Southeast Texas Color Guard, Community Band of Southeast Texas and Other Patriotic Music. Complimentary hot dogs and apple pie will be served after the program.