ATHENS, LA (KSLA) - Sacrifice, love and fellowship. The Athens Veterans Therapy Garden gives the small town of Athens hope for a brighter future as the town has found a way to unite as one, to honor the brave.
“Having something like this it draws everyone together, you’re not aware of who all our veterans until something like this and you grow to appreciate them that much more,” explained Athens UMC Pastor, Perry Anderson.
“It’s very patriotic to see the American flag and you can’t help but salute to the American flag,” said Air Force veteran, Jay Blanchard, “Being a veteran you want to be patriotic and this is a very patriotic community.”
For the young and young at heart, this tenth of a mile track tucked behind the Athens Town Hall is more than a pretty space.
“It’s a way for us to deal with the problems that we had coming back from being overseas dealing with post traumatic stress,” said said Army veteran Sherri Harris, " It’s a way to relax without having to take medications and stuff like that."
Flags encircle the track now known as the Athens Veterans Therapy Garden. A center point for fellowship in a small town once on the verge of disappearance.
“The town could not afford to do anything like this,” expressed Athens Mayor Ann Brown, “You can do wonders when the community comes together.”
Through a partnership with several local organizations, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Trailblazer RC&D and the people who live here, what was once an idea has come to fruition.
“It’s absolutely amazing that a small community like us can come together and build this for our veterans,” echoed Army veteran Stephen Faulk.
“When you look at these guys that served in Vietnam and World War II the sacrifice that they gave a long before any of us, even I was born, it means a lot to have people that still care,” said Army veteran & retired LA State Police officer Michael Allen.
“Everybody comes out when any one else is in need and that’s the same picture that was drawn out for the veterans,” explained Anderson, “When their country was in need they went and it’s a blessing to be a part of Athens.”
The town says the park isn’t finished yet. They have plans to only enhance it’s beauty and raise funds to purchase a monument to be placed in the middle.