Brownwood area residents are building a Central Texas Veterans Memorial here because “people see this as the right thing to do,” according to James Looby of Early, the retired Navy chaplain who chairs the board overseeing the project.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial will be held at 2:45 p.m. Monday at the 36th Division Memorial Park, located across the street from the Brownwood Regional Medical Center. It will conclude with the local observance of the “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3 p.m.
“It’s going to be a pretty impressive memorial,” Looby said. “We’re going to need to raise between $300,000 and $350,000 to do it justice.”
The ceremony will open a major fund-raiser for the memorial, running from Memorial Day through Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
“We need substantial donations, amounts like $1,000 or more,” Looby said. “We’ve been selling paver bricks, and those are still available, but we can’t nickel-and-dime this. Hopefully by the end of the campaign, we’ll have more than what we need to build it. Anything we raise over and beyond that amount will be used for maintenance of the site.”
The memorial itself will be designed in a semicircle, using black mirrored stone. Each major war, at least those dating back to World War I, will feature the names of all the war dead in the eight counties participating in the memorial.
“Of course, World War II has the most,” Looby said. “We may need more than one panel for those names. I think it will be impressive. It will be 10 feet tall, with one large flag pole.”
An inscription will state “lest we forget,” Looby added.
“The more money we get, the more impressive it will be,” Lobby said.
“It is fitting and right that we do this. I think that’s why it’s going to happen. These are individual we need to remember. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to put more names on there before it’s completed.”
Looby, who now pastors First Baptist Church in Blanket, said he will not be able to attend Monday’s groundbreaking because of a prior Memorial Day ceremony commitment at the Naval base at Corpus Christi.
The memorial concept was developed by the local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, but its membership decided it was too small to tackle such a major project. Brown County Veterans Service Officer Billy Murphey stepped in, as did others with an interest in seeing such a memorial built, and a separate nonprofit entity was created. The board currently has 19 members, with representation from Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland and Mills counties. McCulloch and San Saba are the other other counties area to be represented on the memorial.
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.
Americans of every age are invited to participate, whether they do it in a formal ceremony such as the one planned at the conclusion of Monday’s groundbreaking here, or do it individually. Manners in which to signal remembrance include pausing for a moment of silence at picnics or swimming pools, or turning on vehicle headlights.