Surprise Honors Veterans

July 16, 2023
Veteran's Corner

Surprise Community Honors Veterans with Monument

Ceremony features flags representing military branches

a newly installed Veterans Monument at The Grand,

Posted Thursday, June 1, 2023 9:00 am

By Delarita Ford

An official dedication, marked with grandeur for a newly installed Veterans Monument at The Grand, recognized those whose lives have been dedicated to service and sacrifice for others.

The Grand, formerly called Sun City Grand and an active-adult retirement community for residents ages 45 and up, held a ceremony May 19 in front of the monument cemented on the north end of Village Center by the Adobe pool fence.

The U.S. and POW/MIA flags, surrounded by markers for each military branch of service, are prominently displayed.

About 300 people gathered to celebrate the event off of north Remington Drive in Surprise. Among those attending the program were The Grand’s Board of Directors, local veterans, and their families; the Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard’s

Presentation of Colors; Trumpeter Dan Reed; and Spirit of Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Gary Benson, who reminded guests that “freedom is not free.”

“It was a great experience,” said Tom Zmugg, a U.S. Army veteran, who served in the medical corps from 1976 to 1979. “It’s just an awareness and gracious commemoration from this great community.

After viewing the monument, Zmugg added the often quoted saying, “‘All gave some, some gave all,’” which summarizes the selfless acts of service members.

Likewise, the long-awaited monument is designed to honor many of the armed forces service members and their families.

“We believe it shows residents and visitors the true character and moral values of Grand and that we value the sacrifice of all past and future veterans, including their families,” said Bob Aiken, The Grand’s homeowner association board treasurer.

A veteran, and member of the community’s Armed Forces Support Group, Aiken was also a board member when the suggestion for a Veterans Monument was initially presented about 12 years ago. At the time, board members were Alan Meyer, Terry Murphy, Jeff Gibbs, Don Love, Gene Neigoff, Earle Greenberg, and Aiken who requested the design recommendation and location to be delivered to the Board expeditiously.

“This has been a long time coming,” Aiken said.

He thanked fellow residents in attendance, Bill Fedor and Jerry Wojtas, for recommending a monument to be created to celebrate the service of an estimated 1,500 veterans within Grand.

Aiken detailed the background involving the monument’s progression, noting June of 2019 when the Board approved constructing a Veterans Monument in the Village Center and assigned the final design to the Village Center Planning Committee.

“It took another four years and here we are. Right back where it belongs, and under budget,” Aiken said. “After the site was turned down, we agreed that this location offered the perfect setting. Out of the way, yet visible and accessible.”

Barry Curseaden, representing the Armed Forces Support Group, and Bill Gasta were also acknowledged for beginning the work to design a monument at the amphitheater in 2015.

“What a great day! As a community we are finally officially recognizing our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice,” said Curseaden, Armed Forces Support Group founder. “Service has a start date and end date. Sacrifice has no end date.”

“This means everything — the final dedication — we have been deserving for a long time,” said Larry Foy, who served in the Army from 1953 to 1954.

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