The Killeen Police Department
raised money for the memorial and collected the 390 names and photos currently in the memorial’s granite. The walls
surround a combat display statue. Even small children donated money to pay for the memorial.
Gold Star Families were
invited to view the memorial first as white sheets were lifted off the black granite walls. A local flower shop donated carnations
for the Gold Star Families, and many left the flowers, flags and other mementos at the base of the walls.
Gary Randall came to see
the wall because his best friend from childhood, Spc. Tracy L. Laramore, is on the wall honoring the warriors who fell in
“This is a sad occasion,”
The two used to “do
everything together. We went everywhere in Killeen when we were kids,” he said, adding they enjoyed going to the movies together and playing miniature
“It is enormous to
see this,” said Randall, who is active in the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 223. “I think it is wonderful,
great. There are no words you can say about it. This is great. It’s been a long time coming. No words can really express
it. We lost a lot of good people.”
The memorial should act
as a reminder to the community that Gold Star Families continue to need support, said Army veteran Sharon Joulevette.
“They are in need
of hugs and memories,” she said. “Don’t forget to pick up the phone and ask how they are doing. Really,
really remember (the fallen Soldiers’) Families and friends and that they are all our brothers and sisters and keep
all our Soldiers in prayer. They need to be lifted up.”
A ceremony before the memorial
was unveiled featured speakers including U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, who said the fallen Soldiers have given Americans
the opportunity to say the living are the greatest people on Earth.
“I believe that there
is something eternally special about the people we call Americans,” Carter said. “We can stand on planet Earth
as a symbol of liberty.
“These folks (Soldiers)
are not there because of a king,” Carter continued. “They are there for you, each one of you, so you can stand
up and say, ‘I stand for liberty.’ And it is our hope and our prayer that everyone can stand up and say, ‘I
am for freedom.’”
The ceremony also included
a song from country musician Jackie Cox, a performance by the Austin Police Department’s Drum and Bagpipe Corps and
a flyby of four World War II-era aircraft.