A huge bronze statue was unveiled Thursday morning at Lake Wichita Park.
The monument is a gift to the City of Wichita Falls from Major Francis Grice’s local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Ruth James, a former regent of the DAR, came up with the idea of ââhaving a memorial in honor of Vietnamese veterans. Artist and DAR member Shirley King was asked to draw some models.
âThis represents a woman and a man, in their uniforms. We wanted to have a woman, because we are a group of women, and many of the women who served in Vietnam were nurses, but there were many who didn’t. were not. We wanted a diverse sculpture, so we used both a male and female, âKing said.
The sculpture shows two soldiers standing at the edge of a burial ground while one of their fellow soldiers is being buried. It’s called “For Those We Will Never Forget”.
Sculptor Garland Weeks was chosen to create the monument.
“Shirley King sent me a pencil drawing, a sketch of an idea she had had of how this thing would look and it’s a great sketch and showed her dedication to the project. But, all the sketches two-dimensional doesn’t translate well into three-dimensional objects. So I rearranged things and added the equipment and things that had only been summarily provided by Shirley. Her sketch was the seed that caused it all. âWeeks said.
Weeks now lives in Lubbock, but is also a graduate of Wichita Falls High School, a Vietnam veteran who served in the 73rd Signal Battalion at Cam Ranh Bay and was named Official Texas Sculptor by the state legislature in 1995 .
More than a hundred people attended the unveiling ceremony, many of them Vietnamese veterans. The memorial is located just off the Circle Trail at the south end of the park near the lake and next to the dirt hill, Murphy’s Mound.
The creation of the sculpture was a very personal thing for Weeks. âIt was just an honor to do it. Glad I did,â then, choking back tears, âI don’t know if I could do it again.â