The memorial to CSM Kevin Griffin was unveiled during a ceremony at Riverton’s Veterans Park this afternoon. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Under gray skies and a light drizzle, several hundred people gathered at Riverton’s Veterans Park at noon to pay tribute to a local fallen hero – CSM Kevin Griffin. The Riverton native who rose to the highest non-commissioned rank in the U. S. Army was killed in a “Green on Blue” suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan in August 2012.
Noting that the dedication took place on the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the United States a dozen years ago, Governor Matt Mead recognized the sacrifice of Griffin, and all those who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on that fateful day and the conflicts that followed. “We lost 3,000 lives on that day, and we lost our innocence as a country,” Mead said. “We live in a different world now and we need to say thanks to those who serve not just on special days like today, but every day.”
The Governor said he was both honored and pleased to be in Riverton for the memorial dedication. “In this special place, Kevin will be remembered close to home in Riverton – where he grew up, went to school, excelled in sports and formed the traits that made him a great soldier. It has been a privilege for me to join the family and friends of Command Sergeant Major Griffin, the City of Riverton, and the Army in dedicating this Memorial today.”
Riverton Chief of Police Mike Broadhead was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. “Today we dedicate a memorial, and it is only because of the hard work and incredible generosity of a lot of members of our community that this has come to fruition. John F. Kennedy said that ‘A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers,’” Broadhead said in opening remarks. “Thank you for helping us remember Command Sergeant Major Kevin Griffin.”
Mayor Ron Warpness called Griffin a special member of the community. “I asked myself what it takes to create a man of such character, such integrity and culminating in such valor? While it is currently in vogue to find fault with everything close to us from bad roads to weeds to alcoholics to delinquent children, up pops a man like Kevin. How do we explain his existence when he comes from the kettle as all of us.” The mayor had an answer to that question. “Individually each of us may have helped in a very small way to make Kevin what he became. But I believe that collectively, all of Riverton together, was a significant part of the making of Kevin Griffin, the man we are honoring here today.”
Brigadier General Kathy Wright, Wyoming’s Assistant Adjutant General, said that only an elite few reach the rank of Command Sergeant Major. “The law limits E9s to not more than one percent of the number of enlisted members of that armed force during any fiscal year. So the fact that Kevin Griffin attained this rank attests to his skills and abilities,” she said.
“A memorial is more than stone and bronze,” said Ken Persson, CSM, USA, Retired. “It speaks of strength, determination and unyielding endurance. Whether you knew him as friend, comrade, hero, brother, husband, father or loved one, you must know that this memorial, the Battle Cross, is dedicated to the memory of the Man, the Soldier, the Patriot who was part of our lives and will now be known to all future generations. We dedicate this memorial as a place where those coming after us will recognize our desire to acknowledge those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom and they will be encouraged to place the same importance on this site as we do here today.”
The memorial was then unveiled and the family placed memorial flowers on the base of the memorial, along with representatives from the auxiliary branches of the armed forces and veteran’s organizations who were present.
When the ceremony had concluded, Shawn Griffin, Kevin’s brother, noted that each time an event has been held in Kevin’s memory, it has rained, except once. In that instance, at Riverton High School, it snowed. “We had rain at each of the events down in Colorado at Fort Carson, and now here again today,” he said.
County10.com photos by Ernie Over. Click to enlarge.