At the Central Texas Veterans’ Memorial Monday morning, with four of the memorial’s large granite tablets on the ground in pieces, representatives of the memorial’s board declared repeatedly: “we are going to rebuild.”
It’s unknown if the tablets were toppled by vandals or by the high winds in the area over the weekend. Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols said his department is investigating, but there is no evidence of vandalism.
Harold Stieber, president of the memorial’s board, said some blame vandalism and others believe it was the wind. “We’re not sure. I think it was the wind,” Stieber said. High winds uprooted trees and damaged other structures, Stieber said.
Damage was estimated at more than $40,000, and it will take a fundraising effort to replace the destroyed tablets, Stieber said.
Stieber discovered the damage at 8 a.m. Sunday, and he experienced shock and disbelief when he saw what had happened.
“Not a good way to start the week, is it?” Stieber said.
Stieber said it’s time to “pull up your boots and move forward.”
The Central Texas Veterans Memorial is located within the 36th Division Memorial Park and was dedicated on Veterans Day in 2016. The memorial is an expansive project that incorporates more than a dozen new granite markers with other markers listing Brown County’s war dead from World War I and World War II. Those were placed in the city shortly after both wars, and have now been moved to new homes at the memorial.
Those new markers also list county residents who died in both world wars — numbering 39 and 198, respectively — along with eight in Korea, 11 in Vietnam and three in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001.
Local fundraising efforts are already beginning. Weston Jacobs, owner of the Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware store, said his store will be the site of an auction Saturday in which people can buy pieces of the ruined tablets, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the cost of new tablets.
The Brownwood Jaycees are working with him in the project, Jacobs said.
He also said the store will be a donation site for anyone who wants to make a donation toward the new tablets.
Stieber said the memorial’s board will address the issue of preventing future damage from high winds. He said one possibility is to instal an external support on the monuments called a flying buttress.