JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI) - It is a humbling scene in the heart of downtown Jackson Thursday, as members of the American Legion in Jackson add the names of more of our nations local heroes into the monument erected in the town square in a solemn and quiet ceremony Memorial Day 2020.
Legion chapter commander Joe Burke described the scene of the monuments erection as "low key." The only witnesses to the dedication of the ceremony was a community member picking up trash from the surrounding area and two pedestrians who in turn saluted the 8 member honor guard. The main reason for the dedication being so quiet was that it was during the heart of the pandemic opening when large gatherings for these types of events were not allowed.
On adding the names today Burke says, "There were also some people that came forward that are qualified to be on the monument that we did not have that information prior to this. And so these these are some of the additions."
He says some names were also corrected as there were misspellings and some names in the wrong service period.
He says having the monumentl in the heart of town is an honor, and well received by the Jackson community.
"These people that can identify With with people that had served, you know, with that patriotic spirit. And, you know, it was really nice," Burke said.
All of those corrections were made, but the anticipation rose for one name in particular, a Jackson hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Lance Corporal Rylee J. McCollum, who was killed in action in Kabul Afghanistan. On the addition of Lance Corporal McCollum's name Burke said, "You know, it is an honor. You know, he he served. I mean, just like all of us, you know, he raised his right hand and took the same oath to serve the Constitution of the country faithfully and made the ultimate sacrifice. And it's, you know, and it's important to his family. It's important to the community."
For the Jim McCollum, the Lance Corporal's father, it was a humbling experience.
"And very overwhelming and very much appreciated. It's still you're still in this can't grasp the magnitude of all of it. But the other support has been amazing. The homecoming. I've never experienced anything like that. Hope, I never experienced anything like that again. But that was absolutely wonderful. That hit you in a whole different place that you didn't even know you could feel things," he said.
Jim McCollum also added that having his son's name in the monument was special for him and his family.
"An honor for sure. As we'd walk through the square, you know, over the years, we always pay attention to the names and Riley from a young age as patriotic as he was. You know, we'd ask questions about it when it used to be the the rocks and the horse that were up here. Yeah. It's a it's an honor to to have him on there," he said. "You know, sometimes tears fall out of nowhere and you don't know where they're coming from. But, you know, things hit you. And every time we we honor Rylee, it does it. It hits you in the heart again. And the realization is there how sometimes you're numb to it, know you're going through the motions, and you know it's all real. But when it hits you, you feel that it's real. So this is one of those moments where it's real and but proud of the kid. And I'm I'm proud that they're putting his name on here, and he'll be here forever."
McCollum is the most recent name to be added to the monument. As time continues to roll on the American Legion in Jackson says, they will continue their efforts to honor those who have sacrificed so much for our nation and our freedoms.