HESSTON — The community of Hesston held a dedication ceremony Monday afternoon for a memorial created in honor of those who were injured and killed in a shooting at Excel Industries on Feb. 25, 2016.
The memorial is located east of Excel's campus, near Commerce Drive. It features a brick walkway leading to a circular area ringed with stones, flowers and trees.
Located at the center of the memorial is a seal designed by Lt. Bryan Hall of the Newton Police Department. The seal shows the image of a phoenix surrounded by 14 fires, representing those injured in the shooting, and three stars for those killed that day. A plaque with the names of shooting victims Renee Benjamin, Joshua Higbee and Brian Sadowsky will be set at the memorial's entrance.
Wendy Miller, chaplain at Schowalter Villa, began the memorial's dedication by leading a prayer.
"We are bonded together in unexpected ways; in our shared tragedies," Miller said.
Hesston Mayor David Kauffman welcomed the hundreds of people attending the dedication and thanked those involved in the planning, designing and building of the memorial.
"Lamar Roth and his team have done a wonderful job over the last several months to make this memorial a reality," Kauffman said. "They worked very hard to give employees what they asked for, which was a space that was semi-private, natural looking and peaceful."
Paul Mullet, a member of Excel's board of directors, reflected on his memories of the events of a day that left an indelible mark on Excel and its employees.
"None of us can change what happened that day, but I hope all of us find the courage to do some things and make a difference in the world, in the U.S., at Excel, wherever, because of what happened," Paul Mullet said.
"As we remember and express thanks, we're also here to move forward in our journey; never forgetting, yet forever changed," said Bob Mullet, chairperson of Excel's board of directors.
"Let this memorial be a reminder to us of the many acts of heroism that occurred on that day and the countless acts of generosity and kindness that have followed ever since," Kauffman said.
Kauffman also encouraged Excel employees and citizens of Hesston to visit the memorial often.
"Take a few moments out of your busy day to slow down and enjoy the beauty and quiet of this place, remember our friends and neighbors whose lives have been changed forever, take a moment to be still or say a prayer," Kauffman said. "This garden can't bring back the loved ones that we miss or undo the hurt that was caused that day, but it will ensure that we will never forget."