Former Fort Hood commander Paul Funk got it right last Saturday.
The retired three-star general was speaking to a group of family members and others. Many of their descendants had lost all their land when Fort Hood was built in the 1940s during World War II.
The families were forced to leave their homes “on short notice and sometimes in rude fashion” to make way for Camp Hood, Funk said.
“Thanks for your sacrifices, thanks for your loyalty to the United States of America,” Funk told the crowd of nearly 150.
Funk was speaking at a ceremony outside the gate at North Fort Hood where a new Texas historical marker was unveiled commemorating the lost communities that vanished when Fort Hood was built.
Fort Hood, for all the great things it has done during the last seven decades, did not come into being without sacrifice, as Funk noted. The families living on what is now Fort Hood had plowed the fields and raised their children there for generations.
With names like Antelope, Boaz, Clear Creek, Friendship, Harmony, Stampede, Sugar Loaf and Turnover, the communities were small, but lively. Some of them were among the earliest settlements in the area, existing for nearly a century before World War II came along.
What a very different world it would have been to visit those communities in the 1860s or 1890s or 1930s: Hard men and hard women working the land, raising crops, cattle and community.
But when the Germans threatened to take over the world under a twisted regime in the 1940s, freedom had a demand: A tank-destroyer firing range on this land.
Tens of thousands of American troops trained here to fight the Germans. Obviously, it was time well spent. And the thousands of troops that train on the land today ensure America’s rights aren’t taken away.
But let’s all give credit where credit is due. Let’s thank and remember the sacrifice of the families who gave up the land. The Army took the land, but the families didn’t protest or fight for it. They knew the cause was worthy.
In his speech Saturday, Funk urged the family members to share their recollections, photographs and memorabilia with the soon-to-be-built National Museum for Mounted Warfare and Soldier Center at Fort Hood to tell the story of the lost communities.
As long as we remember the communities — in words and photographs — they will never truly die.
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the city editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.