Veterans memorial may open by Memorial Day
A privately funded veterans memorial in Friendswood could open in time for Memorial Day.
Next month, dirt work should begin on the 3,500-square-foot project that is being built on city property just northwest of City Hall, 910 S. Friendswood Drive, said resident Jay Horecky, who is leading the effort. He plans for the memorial to be ready for dedication on or before Memorial Day, which is Monday, May 31.
I'd love to be finished with it and basically have the ceremony and hand the keys over," said Horecky, 60, owner of a metal-goods manufacturing company and an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War.
Horecky had originally hoped to unveil the memorial last Memorial Day, but the project was delayed by a lack of donations because of the struggling economy. Yet now, approximately $100,000 has been received, he said.
That's enough for the memorial, but another $10,000 to $30,000 in donations would allow for all of its planned features, Horecky said.
The Stedman West Foundation gave $35,000 and attorney Tony Buzbee donated $25,000, said Horecky. The remaining money was primarily raised through donations of $1,000 and less, he said.
Besides making a financial contribution for the memorial, Horecky said he has donated 1,300 hours in his company's shop to it. He said he has never doubted that the project wouldn't be completed.
I knew it was going to be finished even if I had to pay for the whole thing myself," said Horecky, a former city councilman. It was going to happen. I'm just relieved and gratified that we've gotten so much support from the community. It was a slow start."
The memorial's centerpiece would be a waving stainless steel American flag that is 8 feet tall, 16 feet wide and ranges in thickness from 8 inches to 2 feet. The flag would be attached to a 2-foot granite base with the inscription of Honor, Gratitude, Respect and Remembrance to the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States."
There also would be two 7-foot granite columns on either side of the flag that would feature the emblems of all U.S. military branches. One would also have a 3-foot diameter stainless steel globe and the other would have a proportional bronze eagle sculpture.
The memorial would have an arched entry, limestone benches, landscaping and floodlights, but wouldn't include the names of all veterans, Horecky said. The names of donors would be inscribed on the back of the arched entry, he said.
Those who are military veterans will have their military branch listed, Horecky said. Those who made donations in honor of a veteran would also have that person's name listed, he said.
The city is not contributing money to the memorial, but has agreed to pay for the electricity to light it at night.
It's important that we honor the veterans that have served not only from our community, but from everywhere," Horecky said.
Horecky said he's in the process of trying to secure dignitaries to attend the memorial's dedication. Mayor David Smith said the memorial's potential opening on Memorial Day would be ideal for a city event that has been held the past two years to commemorate the holiday.
I'd love that tradition to keep going, and I think that'd be a great impetus to get people out to see that awesome structure," Smith said. I'm excited about both of those things possibly coming together for this coming year. I think it's great."
Smith said the memorial is important to remind new generations of past sacrifices.
We're getting further away from those big world wars that were so prevalent in my generation and the previous generation's psyche," he said. Those events in world history are not really engrained in younger people's minds right now. These types of reminders are key that we don't lose the importance of those events in history."
Horecky and those who have helped him with the memorial are to be commended for their perseverance with the project, Smith said.
It's taken a lot of fortitude on their part to stick with it even when they've run into roadblocks and brick walls along the way," he said. That I think is the epitome of another reason why we need to remember those who have provided service to us."
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