JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mandarin High School dedicated a memorial statue Saturday in honor of graduates who died while serving in the U.S. military.
"This is a healing process for not just us but for all the families," Dave Seamans with the Florida Fallen Heroes Foundation.
Saturday the school honored the families of Staff Sgt. Jason Dahlke and Chief Warrant Ofc. Earl Scott, both graduates of Mandarin High. Dahlke died serving in Afghanistan and Scott was killed in action in Iraq. Their fellow Mandarin alum and Wounded Warrior Tyler Southern praised their sacrifices.
"We all kind of view ourselves as gun fighters, to go with our boots on it the ultimate honor," Southern said. "And I would rather fall for something than stand for nothing."
For Seamans, who lost his own son in battle, his goal is to have one monument at each Duval County High School that lost a graduate. So far, there are five.
"It lets them know that these young men and women have left their school, walked the same hallway and they paid the ultimate sacrifice," Seamans said.
In addition to the statues Saturday, 321 American flags flapped in honor of others from the state of Florida who died serving the country. The bronze monuments will be a permanent reminder of not only those who lost their lives, but the continued sacrifice of those yet to come.
"I just hope that they take time to reflect on those that have given the ultimate sacrifice and to remember not just them but their families," Seamans said.