By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
The Nov. 5 Fort Hood Shooting Memorial was unveiled Friday before an audience of about 500 at its future site at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
The memorial's artist and designer, Troy Kelley, unveiled his plans on a billboard. The project will be a yearlong endeavor.
The project is unlike any project the Salado-based sculptor has ever done. It will encompass the most sculptures he's incorporated into one site and involve architectural elements as well.
The memorial will have 13 sculptures based on objects submitted by the shooting victims' families. Each will sit atop a black granite column in a gazebo placed near the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
"I just programmed the gazebo around the sculptures and really it helps to protect it against the sun in the summer, and I think someone could come out in the rain and just sit on a bench and be alone there," Kelley said.
Kelley has committed to long-term projects for the city in the past, having spent a year working on sculptures of Robert Gray and Ted Connell, both on display at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport.
With a total of 15 public art pieces spread across Texas, Kelley has also worked on a number of pieces for Salado. His first public sculpture sits in Salado Creek. The sculpture is important enough to him that he carries a picture of it in his wallet. The sculpture depicts Sirena of Gaum, a woman who was turned into a mermaid according to a Spanish legend.
Born in Wichita Falls, Kelley studied art there at Midwestern State University, where he completed work on a bachelor's degree in 1963. He later attend the University of Maryland and earned a master's degree in educational technology in 1972.
Art has long been a passion for Kelley. He said he remembered sitting on his grandmother's linoleum floor with one light bulb overhead and his feet in the air, redrawing a fighter jet until he got it right. In college, he expanded his work to terra-cotta sculpture, eventually switching to bronze.
Kelley and his wife, Vicki, have been married 14 years. He has one son, Troy Dale Kelley.
"I really consider it an honor to be able to do something, because I'm a Vietnam vet, and of course, I have an affection for all the military in Killeen," he said.
Kelley served with the Army in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968.
"I think the memorial will give people a reverence for life, and I hope it will make people reflect just how vulnerable we are in this life," Kelley said. "If you want to do something, you'd better get on with it."
The memorial is a place meant for serenity and reflection, he added.
"You could sit and just contemplate," he said. "In our world, you don't have that much opportunity to do it nor a place to do it."
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.