By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Covers fell to the ground and flags flew high as Killeen and the SPJST (Slovanska Podporujici Jednota Statu Texas, the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas) unveiled an artist's rendering of the Fort Hood Nov. 5 Memorial design.
Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock and the memorial's designer, Salado sculptor Troy Kelley, were on hand to unveil the billboard-sized rendition during an afternoon ceremony attended by about 500 onlookers.
"I feel thankful that SPJST came forward to help us and partner with the city of Killeen," Hancock said. "Killeen is Fort Hood. Fort Hood is Killeen. We're a military town. Always has been, always will be. I think this is good, and I feel good because I think the family members that are here, they are appreciative of it and understand why we're doing it."
Kelley said the project could take about a year to complete. This is the largest project he's attempted; it involves 13 individual sculptures.
The memorial will consist of a gazebo with a three-sided pyramid with the names of the dead and wounded victims from the shooting.
"We're doing it because we think it's the right thing to do, and I think SPJST, when they brought that forward, they were sincere in wanting to do this because it was something they wanted to do," Hancock said.
Using symbolism throughout the memorial designs, Kelley explained some of the concepts he incorporated into the memorial. Thirteen black-granite columns will surround the memorial, each with a bronze sculpture depicting an object picked out by the victims' families to represent their lost loved ones.
SPJST director of communications Melanie Zavodny said the memorial is estimated to cost about $400,000, plus an additional $100,000 SPJST plans to raise for continued maintenance. Organizers have raised about $70,000 toward the fund.
Each column will have engraved photos of the victims and will include a personal message or poem from each family.
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.