Stolen bronze plaques replaced at Veterans Memorial Park

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WICHITA -- Nearly a month after plaques were stolen from Veterans Memorial Park, some say there is reason to celebrate this Memorial Day.

"It's great to see people come together," said Bob Fugit, Commander of the Veterans Submarine Organization. "At first it was frustration...irritation. I wasn't sure whether we were able to get it done, how much it was going to cost you know. OK, we're coming up. We're a month-and-a-half out of Memorial Day. We'd like to really have it nice for that."

Sure enough they did, with the support of a Kansas business and about 25 marines who replaced three bronze plaques taken from the SS Dorato Memorial.

"It ends up, we got donations for everything that we needed and we're able to save our money for future work down here," Fugit said.

"I think they're wonderful people. and they're great and wish we had more of them," said Bryson Allen, Chairman of Veterans Memorial Park.

The plaques were replaced with ones made of granite. Allen hopes that will prevent future theft, but on Memorial Day, he said it's important to remember America's fallen heroes.

"It's long been said that those of us who forget our history are doomed to repeat it," he said, "And if we don't remember those who've gone, remember the service that they've had, then we're likely to repeat those same mistakes in the future, so we need to remember those who've gone and why."

Early Monday morning, dozens of residents and veterans met at the park to tour and pay tribute to those who served and no longer here.

"So I am really glad to see that the public recognizes that freedom isn't free," Fugit said. "This is an example on this boat of 77 men who didn't come back fighting for freedom."

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