Honor, the four-foot tall, fiberglass oyster statue painted by local artist Ameri'ca Jones and inspired by Dr. Barry Booth, founder of Honor Flight South Alabama (HFSA), is the latest sculpture sponsored by the Original Oyster House and unveiled on the Oyster Trail. The Oyster Trail is a fun, educational and public art program that benefits restoration efforts of the all-volunteer Oyster Gardeners, Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center, The downtown Mobile Alliance, the Mobile Arts Council, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Honor was unveiled at the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores on Saturday morning, July 12 at a breakfast reception honoring veterans. The breakfast was fully attended by veterans including WWII vets/Honor Flight participants, Honor Flight guardians, media, local representatives, sponsors, oyster enthusiasts and art patrons.
"From the very beginning we knew this oyster was special. This Oyster, named Honor, allows us to step back and consider the sacrifices of those before us that help us live our dreams," noted Oyster Trail coordinator and scientist P.J.Waters, as he presented the Oyster Trail Program to the attendees. He also recognized Marie Dyson, a volunteer Oyster Trail coordinator.
Dr. Barry Booth, DMD was requested to join Waters, Joe Roszkowski and David Dekle, co-owners of the Original Oyster House restaurants and Ameri'ca Jones in unveiling the spectacular Oyster with his Honor Flight team that included Colonel Pat Downing, Colonel John New and Margaret Coley.
"It's a communal effort for us to support each other and give honor to those who sacrificed so much 60 years ago along with their families, because they gave us their youth so we can live our dreams today and have the America we have," Booth stated passionately to his captive audience.
"In unveiling this wonderful honor to all the veterans, I think Ameri'ca Jones did a magnificent job capturing the essence of the support of all vet organizations.
Honor flight is depicted on the back of the oyster. Each of you and everyone was a support: the kids, the schools, the families, vet service organizations, communities, churches throughout South Alabama made Honor Flight a success."
Pointing to the HFSA belt buckle worn by the flight team, Booth continued, "The belt buckle is depicted on the back of the oyster. We are very proud. We have Bill Tunnel here from the Battleship, which is depicted on the other side.
Ameri'ca has done a fantastic job capturing veteran and community support, and portraying the honor of all those who serve...not only those in uniforms but the families cause the families give to the nation the most precious things in their lives; they give their children and we should never forget them," Booth said emotionally as Honor was unveiled.
David Dekle, co-owner and vice president of the Original Oyster House restaurants, followed Booth with a short tribute to the veterans. "Honor is integrity in your beliefs and integrity in your actions. I have had the opportunity, through David Riley, to host deep sea fishing trips for disabled veterans. They exude honor. This comes naturally to them. It's hard to thank these guys because they have given all. What a treasure you are to this country," said Dekle.
Deacon George Yeend opened and closed the program with blessing stating, "Our job now is to pass on what motivated you to the next generation."
Honor became the second Oyster Trail installment in Gulf Shores, the first installation at the oldest Gulf Shores' seafood restaurant and the 17th installment on the Oyster Trail. Honor pays tribute to all who serve and also documents the Honor Flight South Alabama logo and history with a plaque inscription mounted to the base of the oyster that reads: From 2008 thru 2013 Honor Flight South Alabama honored 957 World War II veterans with a visit to their Memorial in Washington DC. Our thanks to Dr. Barry L Booth and the entire honor-flight team of guardians, donors and volunteers. The "greatest heroes of our time" received the recognition they deserved for saving our nation and the world.