Veterans memorial monument groundbreaking official on Veterans Day
THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- In a most fitting tribute to veterans on this day that we honor them for their brave service, The Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation in partnership with The Woodlands Township, officially broke ground in Town Green Park for the forthcoming Veterans Memorial Monument.
The focal point of the memorial will be a bronze sculpture depicting two south Montgomery County natives, Cory Kosters and Zachary Endsley, who were both killed in the line of duty just months apart in 2007. Authentic in detail, the bronze has been created by world-renown sculptor, Edd Hayes, who was unable to attend the groundbreaking.
The backdrop of the memorial will feature black, granite tiles, with the names of veterans of all the military branches who have died in service to our country or missing in action, for those who have completed their military service or retired from the military, and those who are currently serving. All branches of the military will have their seal prominently displayed on the monument.
The many speakers acknowledged that the memorial monument was a fitting tribute to the veterans who served; both for those still with us, and especially for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.Township Chairman, Bruce Tough, presided over the ceremony, having Mike Bass, one of the Township Directors, and a veteran himself of the Korean War, read the town’s proclamation honoring all veterans on Veterans Day.
Congressman Kevin Brady of the 8th Congressional District, addressed the crowd, and specifically the actively-serving military in the crowd and the ROTC from College Park High School, who provided the Color Guard for the ceremony.
“I thank so many young people who are willing to follow in the footsteps of our veterans,” said Congressman Brady. “We have a new generation of heroes willing to serve.”
The College Park High School band, the recent winner of the ‘band with the most spirit’ in the Greater Houston area, played throughout the program, performing “Reveille” and our National Anthem at the beginning, an Armed Forces Medley honoring each branch of the service, and closing the ceremony with “Taps.”
Representing the next generation of military leadership was the Commander of the Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets, David Trigg. His eloquent speech expressed his generation’s gratitude to the veterans who served in the military, and the willingness to serve in their honor.
“...but I recognize the debt I’ll never be able to repay,” said Commander Trigg.
Local veterans in attendance, were recognized. All the branches of service were represented, from all the major military campaigns. Several were veterans of World War II, who all shared a memory of two from their days in the service. Among those honored was 93-year-old Ed Hughes, a WWII veteran of the Army Air Corps, the predecessor to the US Air Force. Hughes was bombardier on the B-17s in the Eighth Air Force (8 AF) stationed in England. A recipient of two Purple Hearts, Hughes flew in the mission that bombed Berlin.
Bob Williams, a 96-year old WWII veteran of the Army Air Corps, recanted his favorite military memory...flying over Tokyo harbor in a B-29, after the atomic bombs had been dropped.
“The harbor had the biggest flotilla of ships I had ever seen, and in the middle was the battleship, Missouri. I knew the Japanese were signing the surrender documents,” said Williams. “We dipped our wings as we flew over her.”
Missing from the ceremony was the veteran who worked tirelessly on the project for several years. Tony Motto, the self-proclaimed 'unofficial ambassador of The Woodlands outdoor sculpture collection,' passed away less than two months prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.
“Tony would have been thrilled to have seen this event and the crowd who turned out for it,” said Jodi Motto, wife of the late Tony Motto.
Approximately two hundred residents attended the ceremony on the advent of a blustery cold front. Tony’s memory was honored by having Jodi stand in for him at the groundbreaking segment of the program.
To help see Tony’s vision, which was first conceived in 2004, to completion, the project needs more tiles sold. Each granite tile will include the name of the veteran, branch of service, and rank. The inscription will be painted in white for those missing in action, and painted in gold for those killed in action. Special placement for veterans killed in the line of duty, or deceased, is being considered.
“Six hundred of the granite tiles have been sold, but we still have plenty more to sell, ” said Tony Motto, back in September. “Everyone knows someone who has served, or is currently serving in a military branch of the service. I can’t think of a better way to honor them and thank them for their service.”
Bill Wingo, the Chairman of “The Way Home” project, provided an estimate of the number of tiles remaining to complete the project.
“We have approximately 1,000 tiles left,” said Wingo.
With the holidays approaching, the foundation is hoping the community will consider an everlasting gift for family members who are veterans.
“We need family and friends to sign up veterans,” said Everett Ison, President of the Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation. “Veterans won’t sign themselves up. Most consider it their duty to serve, and they did so unselfishly.”
To download a form for a granite tile, click on Granite Tile Donation Form.
Ison said $400,000 has been raised to date, primarily from corporate sponsorships. The project, which now spans a decade, will come to fruition on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, when the monument is completed and “The Way Home” sculpture is installed. To ensure the ‘wall’ that will enshrine the sculpture is completed in time for the installation, the remaining tiles need to purchased.
For more information about “The Way Home” project, and to purchase a tile, visit the Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation’s website at the link provided.