• August 21, 2014

Nov. 5 memorial needs funds

Organizers need to raise $250,000 to finish site

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Posted: Saturday, September 22, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

Sculptor Troy Kelley has already completed 10 of 13 bronze statues designed to commemorate the victims who died in the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting.

But without more donations, the Salado-based artist may not be able to finish the project.

The statues depict common objects such as a bowling pin, a Bible, a laptop and Scooby Doo — a human touch from the lives of those individuals who were killed.

“The premise was that I wanted the family to choose an object that was a favorite of the individual,” Kelley said.

Kelley conceived the entire memorial — from the placement of the poems, songs and scripture to the geometry of light and stone — in a few short months of inspiration after the shooting.

“I don’t know where I got it from, I just do it,” Kelley said.

The plans call for each of the symbolic bronze statues to sit on top of a 4-foot-tall granite pillar inside a round pavilion.

A portrait of each victim will be etched directly into the granite. In the center, a 70-foot tall flag pole bursts through the round pavilion roof. The American flag at its center will remain lit at all times as a symbol of victory and self assertion, Kelley said.

“Each victim deserves to be remembered and honored not by just Americans but by all the people of the world,” Kelley said.

After an initial burst of support when the project began two years ago, donations have slowed in recent months.

The memorial is about a third of the way finished, with $150,000 raised. The committee estimates it needs another $250,000 to finish the project.

“We are anxious to have it on site and let families come visit,” said Connie Kuehl, director of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and one of the organizers of the memorial.

Kuehl said she was doubtful any of the structures would be constructed in time for the anticipated arrival of journalists and families for the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the lone suspect in the shooting.

“With the trial, we hope that it will bring more attention to (the project) and we will be able to finish it,” Kuehl said.

A worthy site

Under the blessing of the Killeen council in 2010, a plot of land was allotted for the memorial between the Killeen Civic and Convention Center and the Shilo Inn on W.S. Young Drive.

“This area was designated worthy of memorials,” former Killeen mayor Timothy Hancock said.

Hancock, a retired serviceman with two sons who were deployed to Iraq, said the Fort Hood shooting brought the local community closer than any other event to the character of violence that characterizes the global war on terror.

“What happened out there is the same thing that is happening right now in Afghanistan — soldiers being killed by their comrades,” Hancock said, referring to the recent upsurge in violence from soldiers within the ranks of the U.S.-Afghan coalition forces.

Hancock has faith that funding for the project will come through because of the significance the event had on the community.

“You are going to have people from all over the world that see (the memorial) and they will see that this tragedy is what makes our life what it is today,” Hancock said.

Donations can be made to the memorial project by calling (254) 501-3888 or by visiting the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 W. S. Young Drive.

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