‘No regrets’: Park named for Nelson

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A memorial for LCpl Travis Nelson was unveiled Tuesday at the newly dedicated “LCpl Travis Nelson Park” in Bratt.|Photo by Blake Bell

Fallen U.S. Marine LCpl Travis M. Nelson will forever be enshrined at the former Bratt Park, now formerly renamed the “LCpl Travis M. Nelson Park.”

Only feet from the home where Nelson grew up in Bratt, a monument now stands in the park as a lasting tribute to the young soldier who lost his life to enemy fire in Afghanistan on Aug. 18 of this year.

Nelson’s parents, sisters, brother and fiancé quietly wept in the front row during the monument’s dedication ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

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Nelson’s father Scott said his son was a true hero whose death has left a void in his family’s life that will never be filled.

“Even though (Travis’ mom) and I always knew the possibility of this moment, we never expected it. We never prepared for it and we couldn’t even begin to know the pain that his sacrifice would bring,” he said.

Nelson said he has no doubts his son is at peace after giving his life for the country he so loved.

“He knew his duties as a Marine long before he enlisted. He knew that tyranny must be met with resolve,” Nelson said. “He told me ‘I’m not scared, Dad, I’m ready and I’m mentally prepared for whatever comes my way.’”

Nelson said his son, when asked why he wanted to join the Marines, would always answer quickly. “Why does it always have to be someone else’s son?” he would say.

Nelson also commended the people of communities from Pensacola to Atmore for all of their love and support during their family’s time of loss.

“Travis would be so proud to know that his sacrifice brought so much honor and recognition,” he said. “He would be proud to know that people pulled together and supported his family.”

During a brief ceremony held prior to the monument’s unveiling, Marine Col. Joseph Richards said Nelson was the very definition of an outstanding Marine.

“There is no doubt he was a fine Marine,” Richards said. “I am speaking on behalf of Lt. Col. George Benson, Nelson’s commanding officer in 1st Battalion 6th. Of the 1100 serving, he told me, ‘I personally knew Travis, his spirit, courage, selflessness and honor. He was the center of morale in his platoon. He was a hero among his men, and they loved him very, very much.’”

Janet Little Cooper, family friend and neighbor of the Nelsons, also spoke during Tuesday’s ceremony. Little said she and her family will never forget the many fond memories they have of Travis as a child. She described him as a rambunctious child, full of life, and always “into something.” Little said she will never be able to look at her neighborhood without seeing Travis roaming the streets on go-karts, skateboards and BMX bikes or spending days in the yard doing chores and playing with friends.

Cooper said the memories will continue to sustain those who knew Nelson in the difficult days ahead.

“It’s an honor to be able to stand here before you on behalf of such a dedicated young Marine,” Cooper said. “But at the same time, our hearts are breaking as the world continues to move on. While the minutes, the hours, the days since his death have continued to pass, time has stood still for many of us.”

Little said family and community members should take advantage of the park and the memorial and use it to remember Nelson and those he left behind.

“I challenge you take advantage of this very special place,” she said. “And each time you come and look at this memorial behind me, remember the sacrifice that not only Travis made, but the sacrifice his family will make each day of their life from each moment on.”

Before revealing the newly constructed monument to a packed crowd, Little read a note Nelson left with his family before departing for Afghanistan.

“Dear friends and family,” he wrote. “If you are reading this, I didn’t get to come home. I love each and every one of you. I have no regrets. I died for a meaningful cause.”

A monument to the fallen Marine stands in the newly named "LCpl Travis Nelson Park."