On the Friday before Memorial Day, dozens gathered at the City Hall Plaza Park for a monument dedication ceremony to honor veterans and first responders.

“We thank all the service men and women who have come here today to protect us here,” Melissa Mayor Reed Greer said. “Our service men and women from the police and fire and the military branches, whether it’s domestic or abroad. So, thank you for coming, and thank you for celebrating with us as we remember those but also honor those that serve daily.”

Along with the first responders and veterans who attended, there were several City Council members, City Manager Jason Little, Collin County Judge Keith Self and the Melissa High School Band.

Melissa resident and veteran Ray Castoldi was also at the event.

“ It’s nice to be recognized for service, and I’m glad that they included the first responders as well because it’s not just about the military,” Castoldi said. “But so many times you go to other communities and it’s nothing, you know. So, it’s very nice it’s going to be here for god knows how long.”

Castoldi served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969. He said the park and monument are a great addition to the city.

Veteran and County Judge Keith Self gave a short speech before the monument’s ribbon cutting.

“Those of you sitting here today know a better life because of the gentlemen sitting here with their hats on,” Self said. “ Keep that in mind as you enjoy this park, as you enjoy this memorial.”

At the front park is the memorial monument engraved with emblems for all the United States military branches and first responders. Farther down is a water fountain with LED lights and a large gazeebo.

Two ribbon cuttings were held, one for the park and another for the monument. The Melissa Rotary Club was a partner in raising funds to erect the monument.

David Crist is a part of the North Texas E-Club, a rotary club near Dallas. He was invited to the event by a friend . He served in the Navy from 1961 to 1964 as a nuclear weapons instructor in San Diego. He said just having the monument shows other veterans and families of fallen veterans that people care.

“If we didn’t have veterans we probably wouldn’t be here talking,” Crist said. “But a lot of people gave their lives. I’m lucky nobody ever shot at me, but you go where they tell you to go, you do what they tell you to do.”