Veteran’s memorial

In a rain-drenched, somber ceremony, a group of about 300 people gathered at Pack Square Park on Veterans Day to dedicate the new Western North Carolina Veterans' Memorial. Darlene and George Houghton of Candler participated in a wreath-laying at the memorial, which honored their son, Capt. George Bryan Houghton, a 22-year-old pilot who died in June when his jet crashed during a training mission in Utah. The keynote speaker was WNC native Brig. Gen. Katherine Kasun, deputy commander for the U.S. Army's Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg. Kasun was the first female graduate of Western Carolina University's ROTC program. She filled in for Maj. Gen. David Blackledge, who traveled to Fort Hood Texas to support troops there after an on-base shooting left 13 people dead. The new memorial in the downtown park was 12 years in the making and cost $450,000, which was raised by a memorial board of directors that included chairman Richard Griffin, Albert "Tuck" Gudger and others. Artist Jodi Jubran, a sculptor at East Carolina University, created the monument main work — a seated woman in bronze sitting on a granite bench with letters to the "homeland" on her lap. Jubran said she was inspired by her own mother. She felt it was fitting to have a mother figure as the central point of a memorial honoring the service of all veterans "because we all have mothers."

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