Next week Waxahachie will host the “Remembering Our Fallen From Texas” traveling memorial for its North Texas stop honoring and remembering every Texan in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice since the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001.
The memorial, which spans 200 linear feet, contains photographs and biographies of the fallen heroes serving from Texas and will be on display to the public from Tuesday, Feb. 17 through Friday, Feb. 20 at the Waxahachie Civic Center.
The Waxahachie visit is being underwritten by Wayne Boze Funeral Home and is open free of charge to everyone.
“Veterans hold a special place in our hearts,” said Wayne Boze. “Brad (Shotts) and I have been working on trying to bring this memorial to Waxahachie for about a year now since it started making its way through the state. We felt it was very important that we have this here in our community to honor the men and women from Texas who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
The memorial will arrive Monday morning and will be set up inside the civic center.
Monday afternoon, the exhibit will be closed to the public, but will be open to Gold Star families from the region.
Following World War I, the Gold Star Mothers Organization was formed to provide support for families that had lost a son in service to their country. It was common for families to hand a God Star service banner in their window to recognize their loss.
“We have several Gold Star families coming in, some local and some from around the region, to view the memorial and we wanted to give them the opportunity to do that in private, that’s why it won’t be open to the public until Tuesday,” Schotts said.
The public will be allowed to tour the memorial from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. until noon on Friday, when it will be taken down and transported to the next stop on the tour.
A special community ceremony has been scheduled at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17. In addition to word of welcome from Waxahachie Mayor Kevin Strength, the ceremony will include presentation of colors by the Sheppard Air Force Base Honor Guard, the playing of “Taps” by members of the Waxahachie High School Band, a military message from U.S. Airforce Lt. Col. Robert Firman and bagpipes from Pipe Major Robert G. Richardson.
Though the exhibit is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, Wednesday has been designated as Veterans Commemoration Day and on Thursday, the Waxahachie Rotary Club members will each bring a veteran to the meeting to view the memorial.
“I get choked up just talking about the men and women who serve our country,” Shotts said. “Day in and day out, what they do for our country — for us — is absolutely amazing. When we found out about the ‘Remembering Our Fallen From Texas’ memorial, we immediately started working to figure out how we could bring it to our community. This is tribute that every member of our community needs to see.”
The memorial is part of a national program hosted by Defenders of Freedom and funded by Bellville University. Unlike brick and mortar memorials, the “Remember Our Fallen” memorials — there is one for each state in the union — are designed to travel so that more will have the opportunity remember our fallen while being reminded of the tremendous cost of freedom.
“It’s legacy will be that these men and women will be remembered and their names will be spoken,” according the nonprofit Defenders of Freedom organization.
The project began in 2011 and all 50 exhibits are scheduled to be brought together for a national tour in 2016.
At this time, the Waxahachie visit is the only one scheduled for North Texas.
In addition to being underwritten by the Wayne Boze Funeral Home, the Waxahachie memorial visit has received sponsorship support from the Waxahachie Daily Light, city of Waxahachie, Waxahachie Civic Center and CVB, Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and the Waxahachie Rotary Club.
“We are truly honored to have the inspiring memorial in our community and have it available for everyone to visit, to see the photos and read the names of fellow Texans who gave their lives for our country, and to provide them with the honor recognition they so truly deserve,” Boze said.