It's the second largest war memorial in the nation and it's right here in Lubbock. On Saturday night, the Lubbock Area Veterans War Memorial opened to the public for the first time with a special ceremony in Henry Huneke Park.
Chilly temperatures did not keep South Plains residents from coming out and seeing the beautiful memorial for the very first time. Saturday evening, veterans who paid the ultimate price for our freedom were honored in an emotional ceremony.
More than 5,000 area residents bundled up on a cold West Texas evening to gather for a candlelight vigil at the Lubbock Area Veterans War Memorial. Both the young and the young at heart took time to honor, remember, and pray for the men and women who paid the ultimate price, and for those here a ceremony like this one is long overdue.
"Lubbock needed it years ago," says U.S. Army Veteran, Paul Wright.
After the vigil participants made their way to be some of the first to view Lubbock's new war memorial more than two years in the making.
"It's now sinking in that it's finally coming to completion cause we worked on it for so long," says Denver Blanscett, who is on the board for the memorial.
Friends and family members searched almost 12,000 bricks for the names of their loved ones, taking snapshots, and shedding tears over those lost in battle.
"It was Frederick Casnell. He died in Vietnam in 1968," says Army Veteran Gerald Young.
He remembers a dear friend he served with in Vietnam with mixed emotions.
"It's a very sad time, but it's a very proud time for the way we're honoring these guys and the sacrifice they gave," says Young.
For Young, it's difficult to read his friend's name along with hundreds of others who were killed in action, but he finds comfort in knowing his friend and all veterans will be forever remembered as heroes.
"Freedom is not free, some unfortunately have to pay the ultimate price, and for those who come back, it's our duty to remember these guys and not let them be forgotten," says Young.
And by the way, if you haven't purchased a brick, you still have time. You can call the American Legion at (806) 794-9006. Bricks are $125.