City honors veterans with park renovations
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The City of Liberty Hill officially delivered its message to veterans under a setting sun last week, rededicating the space to honor and remember their sacrifices.
“We appreciate so much what (our veterans) have done, and we want to honor that and we want this park to be a memorial to them and their service,” said Mayor Connie Fuller as she welcomed visitors to the park grand opening.
Members of the community, including many veterans, gathered April 12 to celebrate the dedication of the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Park.
Many veterans in attendance were especially moved as they soaked in the changes.
“I was here for the original dedication of this park in 1995,” said an emotional Richard Florence, who served in the US Navy. “I was not going to miss this. I had a little cry with the gentleman that designed this park, it is just gorgeous. This is where I come to meditate when no one is here.”
Bruce Peterson, a Marine Corps veteran, who has family members with names on the monument stones surrounding the flag agreed that the city had created a special place.
“This is beautiful,” said Bruce Peterson, a Marine Corps veteran. “It means a lot to be able to bring my friends from out of town. I’ve got my brother up here in the Army and my dad in the Air Force. It is a place to bring people to remember what (veterans) do for the country.”
During the opening ceremony, Fuller, whose parents were long-time members of the VFW Post in Liberty Hill, said the site and opportunity to make something special with it was important to her.
“It meant so much to me to have that as a part of my family,” she said. “We are so happy we were given the land and immediately we started planning how we could improve it. Everyone is so proud we could have this as the centerpiece of our downtown.”
She announced that after consideration of different options for the main statue to be placed at the entrance of the park, the City Council had voted to commission area sculptor Bob Ragan to create a kneeling solider statue.
“The more that we talked about it, and considered the cost and considered the site we are on, we came up with the ideas of doing a sculpture,” Fuller said. “This is the original site of the (1976) Liberty Hill International Sculpture Symposium.”
Ragan spoke briefly, along with his wife Mary Condon, about the plan for the statue, which begins as an 11,000-pound block, and the honor of being chosen for the work.
“I’m a Vietnam veteran and I’m very honored to receive this commission,” Ragan said.
Other area representatives spoke during the dedication, including Julie Shariflan from Congressman John Carter’s office, Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Edna Staudt and Pct. 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long.
“Today we are remembering and commemorating the men and women who continually give their lives and fortunes to serve for us,” Staudt said as she introduced Long. “I am very grateful for that.”
For Long, the most important thing was to simply say thank you.
“For those of us who have not gone to battle, we don’t really understand what those of you who have gone really went through,” she said. “But I just want to say thank you and it is an honor to be in this park today and be part of this dedication, just to say thank you.”
Residents can purchase bricks in the park to honor veterans. Each brick comes with three lines of inscription for $50, with those funds going to cover the cost of the statue. For more information about purchasing a brick, call City Hall at 512-778-5449.
Florence summed up his feelings by pointing out how special and personal the new park can be for everyone in Liberty Hill.
“There are cities much bigger than us that don’t have a veterans memorial park,” he said. “Liberty Hill is different, it has been different for the 24 years I have been here. My name is on one of those stones over there, so this is a very important place to me.”