Organizers have raised approximately one-third of the funds needed for the Nov. 5 Memorial pavilion planned to be built next to the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Recent cash donations and several donations in kind, such as building supplies, concrete and foliage, have inched the project toward its goal, but much more is needed before the project can break ground.
The total raised by the ad hoc committee, which was organized about nine months after the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting, is approximately $150,000, but it estimates that in order to finish the project it will need between $200,000 and $250,000 more.
Despite slow contributions, the committee is not planning to scale down the project, Chairman Don Farek said.
“The 9/11 memorial took 10 years to be built,” Farek said. “It just takes time.”
The design calls for a large open-air pavilion with a 70-foot-tall pole in the center carrying an American flag, encircled by 13 black granite columns.
Each of the four-foot columns will be dedicated to a victim with a bronze statue featuring symbols from the individual’s life, such as a favorite coffee mug, book or military award.
Salado-based artist Troy Kelley has completed 10 of the 13 statues and the 11th is on the moulding block.
Since the Killeen City Council gave the project its blessing in September, Farek said the committee has regrouped and is looking for new ideas to raise funds.
One initiative has been pricing the individual pieces of the project, such as the pedestals or statues, and selling them individually to donors. In other words, funding the memorial one piece at a time, Farek said.
The project, which began in August 2010 under former Mayor Timothy Hancock, was thought to be not only a memorial to those who were lost but a central gathering place in the city.
The city has reserved ground for the memorial between the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and the Shilo Inn along W.S. Young Drive, adjacent to the Korean War Memorial.
Connie Kuehl, the director of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and the Killeen Visitor’s Bureau, said the memorial will be placed in an ideal location for out-of-town visitors.
“We feel like once (the memorial) is built it, will draw people to that part of the city,” Kuehl said.
Fort Hood has a memorial of its own, Kuehl said, but the visiting families of the victims might be intimidated by having to go on post to see it.
“I think for the families of the victims, if they come to town and want to visit the memorial, they will find this so much easier,” Kuehl said.
One of the major partners in the fundraising has been the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas, a Temple-based Czechoslovakian fraternal group. Other groups and local businesses have helped out by offering products for fundraising events.
Farek said the committee is determined to find residents and families willing to donate to this permanent memorial.
“The people that lost their lives are victims of a terrorist attack, just like 9/11. This happened in our backyard and we need to honor those just like at 9/11,” Farek said.
The committee plans to place 13 flags at the site of the proposed memorial on Monday to honor those who died during the Fort Hood shooting.
Contact Brandon Janes at email@example.com or (254) 501-7552