Eight years to the day that a suicide bomber took the life of Riverton native Command Sgt. Major Kevin Griffin in Afghanistan, a battlefield cross memorial is his honor was rededicated at Riverton’s Veteran’s Park.
The initial memorial was ripped off its base by a person or persons unknown two years ago. Since that event, the Fremont County Community came together and raised enough funds to replace the monument and have a high-tech security system installed at the site and on the nearby Riverton City Hall. Video monitoring of the site is now done inside the Riverton Police Department 24 hours a day.
Griffin’s immediate and wide-spread family gathered for the occasion and sat underneath tents in the warm morning sun. A light cooling breeze wafted through the park occasionally, moving the flags of the U.S. Armed Forces surrounding the park. The large audience was socially distanced on the lawn around the park.
Governor Mark Gordon, who wore a mask entering the ceremony, was the keynote speaker at what was being called the CSM Kevin Griffin Angelversary.
“We are struggling as a nation now, and while some are tearing things down, the right thing to do is to build things up. And that’s what we are doing here today. The United States is the first and perhaps only nation at its core that had a citizenry soldiery to build and protect this new country. People served willingly throughout many wars, as did Kevin,” Gordon said. “His dedication and sacrifice represented this great tradition.”
Recalling his youth, the Governor said he read a book when he was 14 years old about a P.T. 109. “I thought it would be interesting,” he said. Of course that was John F. Kennedy’s boat which was torn in half by a Japanese destroyer. JFK later became the President. His famous charge to the country during his inauguration in 1960 the Governor repeated: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. “This is a measure of what we Americans are about, what Kevin was all about,” Gordon said.
Other speakers included:
Shawn Griffin, Kevin’s brother: “I don’t want to say Kevin was a piece of work, but Kevin was a piece of work,” he said to laughter from the big audience. “He was a wild guy in the best and good way. When we lost Kevin, we lost a bunch. The community came together to have this memorial re- done, and I thank you.”
Riverton Mayor Richard Gard: “CSM Kevin Griffin made a difference, a big difference in his life. I want to thank the citizens of Riverton who came together to replace this memorial.”
St. Senator Eli Bebout: “People take freedom for granted, but in the United States we have a huge heritage with our military. We honor CSM Griffin for giving his life. Let’s not forget to honor those served.”
Wyotoday.com photos by Ernie Over