OLYPHANT, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A special memorial park honoring our 21st-century desert soldiers and veterans of all eras is set to be unveiled on Saturday in Lackawanna County.
“Olyphant is called the queen city, and what we’re gonna do is put a jewel in the crown of the queen city tomorrow,” said Kim Onda Atkinson and George Atkinson, Freedom Fighter Memorial.
Kim Onda Atkinson and her husband George have been awaiting this day for years. On Saturday, Freedom Fighter Veterans Memorial Park will be dedicated during a powerful public ceremony in Olyphant.
“We started in 2017, in 2019 we were done, the statue was done, it was ready and COVID hit,” the Atkinsons explained.
The stainless steel statue called “The Desert Soldier” is a decades-long project completed by local artist Mark Zinskie.
It will now permanently stand guard over the borough in the park, honoring all who serve, including Vietnam-era veterans like George.
“We’re trying to make sure no other veteran was treated like we were, you know like the Vietnam vets,” the Atkinsons told Eyewitness News. “They were shunned, they were spit on, they were called baby killers, and that happened to him coming home. So, nobody’s gonna do that again, not if we can help it. And that’s why we do what we do.”
The Olyphant Borough Freedom Fighter Veterans Memorial Park dedication kicks off on Saturday at 2 pm. The park is located next to the Olyphant Borough Building at 113 Willow Avenue.