A war memorial was dedicated to fallen students of DCCC. The memorial consists of the Battlefield Cross on a pedestal, surrounded by three black benches. Each bench includes a plaque engraved with a soldier's name, their birth and death dates and their branch of military service.
Three simple but powerful objects make up the Battlefield Cross: A warrior's rifle, his helmet and his boots.
The cross speaks of a warrior's life of sacrifice for his country, and is commonly used to show living soldiers' respect for their fallen comrades.
Now, it forms the heart of Dodge City Community College's new memorial to three fallen warriors and former students: Sgt. Christopher R. Kruse, Lance Cpl. Brian A. Escalante and Sgt. Benjamin C. Morton.
The soldiers' relatives watched Wednesday afternoon as college officials formally dedicated the memorial, located between the Student Union and the Math/Science building. Students, faculty, lawmakers and other observers also attended the event.
The crowd applauded as members of the Kansas Patriot Guard rode up to the site, their motorcycle engines roaring as they entered the campus. Then everyone fell silent as the ceremony began.
DCCC President Richard Burke said the soldiers' families were the true guests of honor.
"You've made the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "You honor us with your presence."
Burke thanked the Student Government Association, the Dodge City Community College Foundation Association, Brak-Hard Concrete Construction and others for making the memorial possible.
He also read statements from U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Brownback, who were unable to attend the ceremony.
Student Government Association President Josh Klein said the memorial would be a lasting tribute to the soldiers and the sacrifices that they and their families have made.
"On this occasion, I am reminded of a Bible verse that I learned from my dad when I was younger: 'No greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his friends,'" Klein said. "With this memorial, these fallen warriors will never be forgotten by the students and staff of this college."
The memorial consists of the Battlefield Cross on a pedestal, surrounded by three black benches. Each bench includes a plaque engraved with a soldier's name, their birth and death dates and their branch of military service.
Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting said he and his fellow soldiers were honored to attend the ceremony.
"I'm here to tell you as a proud Kansan that Dodge City has a special place in our hearts, because this is the heart of America," said Bunting, who serves as Kansas' adjutant general. "And you should be justifiably proud that your community has made this memorial possible."
The mournful strains of "Taps," a military bugle call used at funerals and memorial services, filled the air as the ceremony ended.
Morton's father, Allen Morton, said afterwards that he was pleased with the memorial.
"I think it takes a lot of dedication from not only the instructor that made them, but also from the college and everybody that's donated time," he said. "It's all appreciated greatly."
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.