Local park track rededicated as walking veterans museum

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PACIFIC, MO (KTVI) - Liberty Field sits on the southeast side of Pacific. It grew from the Meramec River flood plain about eight years ago and consists of a group of soccer fields surrounded by a one mile running track. But where some saw a place for sport, Pat Smiley saw a place of honor.

“It goes from the American Revolution, to the Civil War, to World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the modern day War on Terrorism,” Smiley says.

Drawing on his vision, the one mile track that surrounds the fields has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind outdoor walking museum.

People who use the track now pass 33 black granite plaques, each one etched with highlights from a crucial moment in our nation’s history; the kind of moment in which heroes are made and many lives are lost.

Funding for the museum was raised locally with each plaque costing $500 to make.

“The whole thing is for the educational purposes of the children. It is to show respect for the veterans and let them know that freedom comes at a cost,” Smiley says.

And that cost has been especially heavy in Pacific during the recent conflicts in the Middle East.

Riley Baker, Brian Woods, and Jeffrey White were all killed in action in Afghanistan; all three are now honored with their own plaques at a park named for the very thing they died protecting.

A dedication and ribbon cutting for the Liberty Walk Museum will be held Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m.