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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

IN DEDICATION: Nov 5, 2009 Fort Hood Memorial

IN DEDICATION: Nov 5, 2009 Fort Hood Memorial

Friday afternoon hundreds of people to include Governor Greg Abbott, Congressman John Carter, military and local dignitaries along with community members gathered for the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood Memorial Dedication.

Along with the dedication of the memorial was a ceremony for the presentation of Texas Purple Hearts to those that were killed or wounded in the attack on Fort Hood almost seven years ago.

“It is a bittersweet day and brings a little bit more closure,” said Shou Her, widow of Kham Xiong. “I just want to thank everyone that made this possible.”

The 2009 attack was the deadliest mass shooting that has happened on a military installation. The attacker Nidal Hasan killed thirteen people and wounded 31 others at a place where they should have been safe, on American soil.

“Today just brings closure to what happened and should never happen again,” said Isabel Zunija, family member of victim, Eduardo Caraveo.

The memorial was made possible by a committee and the generous support of local sponsors and donors. The memorial is a gazebo that contains thirteen sculptures on engraved granite pedestals, each sculpture pays tribute to one of the victims killed in the attack. Thirteen columns support the gazebo, the columns are directly behind each individual memorial and have a recessed area for friends and family to place flowers or other mementos. In the center of the memorial is an engraved granite flag pole base and has the names of all of the wounded and killed on that day.

“I think it was well deserved. And, thank you to all the Central Texas community for their support,” said Timothy Hancock, Fort Hood Memorial Committee, Chair. “This was a Central Texas community event. We couldn’t have done it without all the support from the community.

“A beautiful memorial, they did everything right. I’m glad I came out here two times by myself. Last night, I just wanted to take it all in,” said Dorothy Carskadon, Captain, injured in the attack. “I felt very strongly about being here, for those that couldn’t be here.”

“Shows a positive light,” remarked Wanda Gunter, Harker Heights resident.

Family members of the victims released thirteen balloons into the sky after the dedication. The ceremony was a chance for those injured and the family members of the victims to reunite and reflect.

“I think they did a fabulous job,” commented Sergeant First Class Joy Clark, injured in the attack. “It is really great to see family and friends.”

The memorial is located on the grounds of Killeen Civic and Conference Center and is available to visit both day and night. The memorial will be lighted at night providing a comforting glow for visitors.

“Shows the relationship between Fort Hood and Killeen. The soldiers are a part of our community,” commented Steve Harris. “A great way to honor our honorary citizens. Even, for as long as it took for the government to recognize it was an act of terrorism and not workplace violence.”

Local artist Troy Kelley from Salado made the bronze sculptures using favorite items of the victims to commemorate their lives and what they loved.  Private First Class Francheska Velez had a beloved Scooby-Doo plush toy that she used for comfort.  Kelley casted a bronze replica of the toy and also a smaller one to represent the unborn baby of Valez.

“It has been expressed this is a labor of love for the entire community. By the expression on people’s faces, I see it is a success,” remarked Troy Kelley, sculptor. “It was long overdue to recognize the troops. The troops make it possible to stay free.”

“I am so glad all this was done in their honor. This is all very gratuitous from the people that donated and the perfect location,” commented Jeri Lyn Krueger, mother of victim Any Krueger.


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