Saturday, December 16, 2017
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20171109 Veterans War Memorial

Korean War
Bronze plaques show actual battles of the Korean War in 9 phases.

“It’s been an amazing journey but in late 2018 or early 2019 the entire Veteran’s War Memorial of Texas will be completed,” stated Col. Frank Plummer (Ret.) US. Army. The journey began in 1988 when a friend told him the veterans of McAllen should place a statue of a World War II veteran in Archer Park to remind residents of their sacrifices.”

While Plummer agreed with the idea of remembrance of the sacrifices made during World War II, he wanted a memorial that would teach school children about the sacrifices of all those who had served to give the United States of America the freedoms that it now enjoys.

Shortly after that conversation, he visited Las Vegas. While walking around the city he came upon a large mound of dirt with a stream of water shooting from several large tubes at the top. The water was shooting into smaller tubes in smaller mounds of dirt with such precision that none of the water was wasted. Mesmerized by the accuracy of this unique fountain, Plummer sat and watched it for a couple of hours, while forming the concept for the Veterans War Memorial of Texas in his head. The spurting water would represent the men and women who defended and some who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and liberty and independence. The returning water represented the freedom and independence earned through these sacrifices so the American people continue to enjoy freedom and independence.

Plummer returned home, and with a group of 12 other veterans began planning an impressive war memorial that would attract people not only from the Rio Grande Valley but all over the United States and internationally as well.

The first step was to acquire the land. The committee led by Plummer went to the McAllen City Council. Then-mayor, Othal Brand, told Plummer he had plans to convert a piece of swampy land near Ware Road into a site where a new McAllen Convention Center would be built. Because an attraction would be needed to enhance the site, Brand promised Plummer five acres on the west side to build the memorial.

20171109 Veterans War Memorial.GU IMG 4319

American Spire Of Honor
The American Spire of Honor stands at the center of Veteran's War Memorial of Texas.

Col. Plummer told him it would take nine years of fund-raising before the project could start. If there was not enough funds at begin at that time the land would be returned to the city. He and his committee began talking to city administrations and veterans’ groups all over the Valley to explain what was planned.

Nine years after the concept was created, construction began on the first of five pie-shaped wedges. It was decided to construct the World War II memorial first. Statues of military personnel who played an important part in that war along were sculpted and bronzed, and glistening beautiful granite walls were erected bearing the names of those who died in that war etched in stone as a permanent memorial. Another wall honored the Medal of Honor recipients. Families were invited to purchase pavers, bricks and benches honoring veterans, friends and family to honor anyone who believes in the American freedom.

When the World War II section was completed, work began on the section for the Vietnam War and the Korean War. Then came the all other wars section, which represented the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War and more modern wars such as the Gulf War and the fighting in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

A large 105-foot tall black spire was then erected in the center representing the sacrifices made by those who served to defend our country and to protect the freedoms and values this nation represents around the world.

Currently under construction is another All Wars section (the fifth wedge of the pie), that features the children of the Valley. Children will be invited to write essays about significant moments in history. The stories selected will be etched into 36 granite panels for everyone to read with the child’s name, school and principal. The others will be placed in a website for use by teachers, historians and the general public.

“These stories will be a record for all time about how the wars affected United States history and its citizens,” said Plummer. It will exist for all time for future generations to read and learn about the sacrifices made by American military personnel to keep this country free,” he added. “That is, unless someone decides to rewrite history and tear it down as is happening to Southern history across the South.”

Colonel Plummer served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam before retiring in the Valley in 1975. Almost 30 years after he first conceived the memorial, Plummer, who is now 92, and the memorial committee are looking for volunteers who are willing to continue management of the memorial and organization of the two major programs honoring veterans. To volunteer or for more information, call (956) 631-2511.

The first program celebrates Veteran’s Day. This year’s Veteran’s Day service was held, Nov. 10 with schools participating in the event.

Pearl Harbor Day/9-11 Remembrance

The other program planned at the Veterans War Memorial of Texas is a Pearl Harbor Day/9-11 Remembrance to be held on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. The public is encouraged to attend this ceremony to honor and remember the bravery and sacrifice of our military and first responders lost in these horrific attacks on our nation. In addition, WWII veterans will be honored for their service and sacrifice during WWII. A special tribute is planned for these members of our "greatest generation."

“This program was planned for the Veterans Day ceremony, but due to bad weather it was canceled, so we are asking all WWII veterans and families to attend,” said Jan Hartzog, one of the event’s planners. In case of bad weather this program will be moved indoors to the Convention Center. For further information or questions call Col. Frank Plummer at 956-631-2511 or Jan Hartzog at 956-605-3486.

When Col. Plummer turns over management of the memorial, he will be able to look back with pride on the wonderful memorial that has taken 30 years to create. Through the perseverance of a man who had the dream and the veterans and city officials that helped him, McAllen has a war memorial that can proudly stand beside any war memorial in the United States.

However, Plummer is quick to say he was not the only person responsible for the memorial that honors war veterans. It could never have been built without the support of the cities, schools, veterans organizations, citizens and Winter Texans of the Rio Grande Valley and Texas and the nation who helped raise over $2 million needed to create the memorial that will stand for decades, if not centuries, to attest to the patriotism that exists in the City of McAllen, the Rio Grande Valley and the nation.

For those who have not yet visited the memorial, it is located on 29th Street and Col. Plummer Drive on the west side of the new McAllen Convention Center.

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