More than three years after the tragic shooting at Fort Hood that claimed 13 lives, the planned memorial to the victims is getting a much-needed boost.
Like the court-martial for the Army psychologist accused in the massacre, the project to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the shooting has been on hold.
In both cases, the delay has been difficult for both the shooting’s survivors and the victims’ families.
But now the Killeen City Council has appointed an ad hoc committee to breathe new life into the fundraising effort, which is still about $250,000 short of its goal.
Heading up the committee is former Mayor Timothy Hancock, who was in office when the shooting took place on Nov. 5, 2009. Hancock subsequently started the memorial initiative through the city’s special projects committee.
In addition to Hancock, the committee members include a former mayor in Fred Latham and three former council members — Dick Young, Otis Evans and Don Farek.
But perhaps more importantly, the committee includes Joleen Cahill, whose husband, retired Chief Warrant Officer-2 Michael Cahill, was killed that November day at Fort Hood’s Soldier Processing Center. Cahill will represent the victims’ families as the committee works to bring the project to fruition.
Hancock said he hoped the council’s endorsement would give the initiative new momentum, as well as provide oversight as the fundraising effort moves forward.
Much of that momentum was lost when voters recalled five members of the previous council in November 2011. That council had given its endorsement to the project when it was first conceived. But members of the original memorial committee were concerned that the new council might not back the endeavor.
With last week’s establishment of the ad hoc committee, those fears have been allayed.
The committee’s fundraising strategy is a sound one — offering a variety of sponsorship levels to help make the memorial a reality.
For example, the circular memorial will feature 13 engraved granite pedestals bearing bronze sculptures — one for each of the victims. Sponsorships will be available for each pedestal, as well as for the flag pole that will rise from the center of the memorial.
Other sponsorships are being offered for items ranging from site preparation to sidewalks, support columns and steel work.
Though prices of actual items in the fundraising “menu” range from $350 each for interior benches to $20,000 for landscaping trees and bushes, the committee is also seeking monetary donations of any size. Several levels have been established: Patriot Gifts, up to $99; Bronze Eagle, $100 to $999; Silver Eagle, $1,000 to $9,999 and Golden Eagle, $10,000 and more. The menus are available at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
By offering a wide range of donor options, the committee is likely to persuade a sizeable number of businesses, civic organizations and individuals to get involved — and that can’t help but increase community spirit moving forward.
Committee member Don Farek said more than $100,000 has been collected and put toward the interior of the memorial, but more than $250,000 is needed for construction of the 40-foot-wide pavilion before ground is broken at the site, between the Shilo Inn and the conference center.
Farek, a longtime area homebuilder, said he is hopeful that area suppliers will also provide in-kind donations to help defray construction costs for the project.
Much of the interior spending has gone toward the bronze sculptures of the victims’ memorabilia that will be displayed on the pedestals. Those same sculptures will featured at the Take 190 West Art Festival at the conference center March 1 and 2, giving area residents a chance to appreciate the craftsmanship of the memorial’s designer, Salado-based sculptor Troy Kelley.
When the project was unveiled in 2010, Kelley said the memorial would take a year to build.
Hopefully this new fundraising initiative will bring its completion closer to reality.