In May of 2002, the Veterans’ Memorial Park Commission decided to distribute forms for an essay contest to middle schools located in Lee County. The rules were simple; write a seventy-five words or less essay on the topic, “What Freedom Means To Me”. The instructions read, “Please do not sign your name and turn the essay into your teacher”.
A week later Commission member, Randy Hardin, collected over 400 essay forms. These were read and the Veterans’ Memorial Park Commission voted on the ten top essays. After much discussion, review, and deliberation, the winner was chosen. Sarah Schauff of Dixon Reagan Middle School was the winner and best author of describing “What Freedom Means To Me”. Her essay was inscribed on a granite stone located at the entrance of the park.
Sarah was present on our first legacy stone dedication ceremony on 22 August, 2004. At that dedication, more than 350 people were present. The construction, at that time, was just beginning to start and the planning stages were already two years in the making. It was difficult to visualize the architects’ design and many people were surprised to learn that what they saw that day was nothing compared to the extensive construction that would soon follow.