Artists are putting the final touches on a new monument set to be installed on the grounds of the Capitol complex.
Standing 21 feet high, “The Price of Liberty” memorial depicts a version of Lady Liberty pulling a father and husband away to war as his tearful wife holds on and their daughter holds an American flag folded into a triangle, a dreaded gift the nation hands the families and loved ones of those who fall in warfare. The monument honors service members from Texas who have risked and sacrificed their lives since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the families of those who have served.
In a dedication ceremony Saturday, the bronze memorial will be unveiled at East 12th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard.
Retired Army Col. James Stryker, the Texas War Memorial Foundation’s board chairman, said by the time the Vietnam Veterans Monument was erected on the grounds of the Capitol in 2014, almost 40 years had passed since he served during the unpopular conflict. He had moved on with his life. “I don’t need to go back,” he said.
Coming from that perspective, it’s not too soon to honor those who have served since 9/11 and their loved ones, Stryker said.
“This generation of warriors really need an opportunity to know, truly, that we as a state appreciate your sacrifice,” he said.
The monument will join Capitol memorials to veterans and those who died in every American war since the Civil War, with the exception of Union soldiers.
Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015 signed House Concurrent Resolution 70, which gave the State Preservation Board the authority to OK the construction of the memorial. The resolution also mandated that the cost be covered through private funding. Stryker said the foundation “got a pretty good deal,” spending about $400,000 in donations to make the memorial. Ten percent of that amount will cover the cost for the state to maintain the display.
“While the memorial will serve as a grim and heartbreaking reminder of tragedy and sorrow, my hope is that it will also be met with determination and resolve as we continue to confront the source of this shared global crisis,” Abbott said in a statement to the American-Statesman. “I am proud that as a state we can unite behind the common cause of combating evil in our world, and hope that this memorial allows for solemn remembrance of the lives lost in the war on terror.”
The foundation is still taking donations to cover the cost of travel for Gold Star families, veterans and their families to attend the dedication. Stryker said the foundation plans to make a gift to the state for landscaping at the site and a place to sit.
“That’s the key thing,” he said. “As a soldier, I never knew what the family went through until my wife deployed.”
Stryker’s wife, retired Maj. Gen. Joy Stevens of the Texas Army National Guard, a member of the foundation’s board, said her father was in the Navy during World War II and was at Pearl Harbor when Japanese forces attacked. He never talked about it, she said.
“When I would ask him, he would joke about the beautiful women on the beaches and how he ate pineapple until his teeth turned black — but the joking was a cover for feelings and thoughts that, had he shared them, it may have helped him heal,” she told the Statesman. “It would have also helped me understand as a child a little of what he and my mother lived through. He never did.”
Stevens’ father has died, and her mother doesn’t remember the details of his service. Also, Stevens said that history is lost because she could not find his records. That’s why the Living Memorial, an online component associated with the memorial, is important, she added.
“It captures the stories and details of the service members and their families that have served since 9/11,” Stevens said. “It keeps the fallen alive in our memories and demonstrates the price of liberty through the stories. It is for those who have served and understand the sacrifice — and for those who have not served, so they might understand too.”
More information about the monument, the dedication and how to donate can be found at texaswarmemorial.com.