The eagle caught my eye. It wasn’t in flight but rather perched on a black granite pillar along the banks of the Missouri River in the small town of Boonville, Mo., and it wasn’t moving. It was a bronze statute.
Sculptor Sabra Tull Meyer created the Freedom Flight Monument that stands in the center of the Veterans Memorial. This park is not just about honoring one branch of the military. Circling the eagle are five granite monuments each representing a different branch of the military — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
It’s the eagle that draws you in. There are 59 species of eagles worldwide, each with their own abilities. The bald eagle is the most common in Missouri.
For many, the bald eagle represents freedom perhaps because it can soar through the skies reaching heights of 10,000 feet. But the eagle also is powerful and strong.
The bald eagle reaches speeds up to 43 mph in flight with speeds of 90 mph when diving for prey. In Missouri, many eagles nest along rivers, lakes and marshes to feed on fish. Some reside on cliffs looking for small animals.
Bald eagles are fierce. There are videos of these birds of prey catching up to and then swooping under geese in flight, then turning over and thrusting their talons into the other bird’s breast. Not a bird I want to mess with.
It is only fitting that this mighty bird stands at the center of this Veterans Memorial Park. The men and women honored here also are powerful, strong and fierce.
But this is not a place to only remember the fallen.
The eagle is resting on a three-sided monument. One side has words from the Gettysburg Address. Another has a beautiful tribute to the past etched in granite of a M1 Garand and helmet. The final side is etched with a combat helmet and M16 rifle signifying that some are still fighting for our freedom.
We can never forget the lives lost in the pursuit of freedom from the very birth of our nation until today. And we must thank those who continue fighting for our great country to remain free.