SALADO — James Robison, a senior at Salado High School, has begun an unusual and some would say difficult undertaking: He’s trying to get a veterans memorial built in the village.

Robison, 19, is a part of the Texas FFA Ford Leadership Program. The program is an exclusive, six-month-long leadership development course for high school students. Out of 200 Texas FFA members who apply every year, a total of 10 are accepted.

Throughout the program, students are expected to develop and complete a service project in their respective communities. Other students in the program planned and executed a community beautification project and after-school tutoring; Robison’s project is unique in its size and scope.

“Most of the projects are in the $1,000 to $2,000 range,” Robison said. “This costs $25,000. No one has done anything like this before.”

Robison’s project is attempting to raise the funds and construct an entire veterans memorial.

His star-shaped, open plaza design features five obelisks ringing a water fountain.

“One for each branch of service: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and (Coast Guard) ,” said Robison, who was inspired to create a memorial because so many people from this area are veterans. “A memorial will give the community something that can be used for events like Memorial Day and Veterans Day,”

Travis Burleson, pastor of Salado First Baptist Church, said Robison’s desire to work for the community was impressive.

“He genuinely wants to do something for the village,” Burleson said. “I didn’t get the sense that he was a kid who was just looking to do a project to burnish a college application.”

Fred Brown, a member of the village’s board of aldermen, was similarly impressed by Robison’s enthusiasm and thinks the memorial, when it’s completed, will be a great addition to the community.

“It has tremendous potential for the village,” Brown said, “simply because of the retired and active-duty military here.” Because of the difficulty raising $25,000 in funds and constructing an estimated 50-foot by 50-foot monument, the FFA agreed to push the deadline for Robison’s project back six months.

“Everyone else completed their projects back in January,” Robison said. “Because of what I’m doing, I have until July.”

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