Groundbreaking ceremonies for a memorial to Central Texans who died while serving in battle since World War I were held Monday, and participants paused at 3 p.m. to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.
The Memorial Day ceremony, held at the 36th Division Park across from Brownwood Regional Medical Center, featured a flag raising, the playing of “Taps” and comments from board members of the Central Texas Veterans Memorial.
“This project was begun 10 years ago by the local Vietnam Veterans of America, but their numbers dwindled and it was decided a larger organization needed to take this up,” Billy Murphey, Brown County veterans service officer and memorial board member, said. “We’ve been flooded out twice, but we’ve kept on going because of the dream of building this monument. Now, we’re ready.”
The groundbreaking, conducted by members of the memorial board, opened a fund-raising campaign that will run through Veterans Day.
“This will be something we will really be proud of,” Murphey said. “This part of Texas has given a lot for our freedom. You’re going to realize when you see the names that freedom is not free, and this part of Texas has more than paid its share of that price.”
Murphey described the semicircle design of the monument, and a drawing showing where the names of the war dead from eight area counties will be inscribed was on display.
“We’re very proud to get this project started again,” said retired District Judge Ernest Cadenhead. “It’s one of the most honorable projects we can pick to support. We think we’ve got a good design, and with everybody’s support, we can get it done.”
Murphey credited Cadenhead with recruiting new board members for the organization now heading the effort.
Another board member, Brownwood City Council member Dave Fair, said some who have been contacted to assist with the campaign asked if that meant they would have to contribute financially.
“You don’t have to, you get to,” Fair said. “That is the attitude we all ought to have. Those whose names will be shown here gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is the duty of those of us who have enjoyed the freedoms that they died to preserve built this monument, in honor of the fallen in the eight-county area.”
The memorial will honor fallen veterans in wars dating from World War I who lived in Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, McCulloch, Mills and San Saba counties.
Murphey said at least $300,000 will be needed to build the monument.
Donations to the Central Texas Veterans Memorial can be mailed in care of Citizens National Bank, P.O. Box 1629, Brownwood, TX 76804. Information and forms are available from Murphey, whose telephone number is (325) 646-0335.
The National Moment of Remembrance was established by Congress in 2000 to put the word “memorial” back into the Memorial Day observance, according to the White House commission created to oversee it.