Garland Secret Garden
Garland Secret Garden
Located at 600 W Avenue A, Garland, TX 75040
This public garden has existed since 2004. Only a handful of people know it exists. It was designed by landscape architect David Baldwin to commemorate and honor those who gave their lives serving in the armed forces and all those who served. Most recently, the Vietnam War Memorial has been added to the garden.
We first discovered the garden in 2011 and were very impressed with memorial benches and walkway made up of bricks with the names of Garland residents who had served in the various branches of our US Military, in addition to other structures. At the same time, we were surprised that there were no memorials on display honoring those Garland citizens who had lost their lives fighting to maintain our freedom. We wondered if there were memorials existing elsewhere in the city, and that’s when our search began. One of our discoveries was a Vietnam War Memorial in Central Park.
The large marble memorial had been installed in what is now a parking area in Central Park in the late 70’s. It was originally commissioned and paid for by the Garland Jaycees, an organization that no longer exists, we are told. The Garland Messenger discovered it was there in 2011, and had been trying to get it moved to the Veterans Tribute Garden ever since. We were working on a project to memorialize WWI and WWII Garland citizens who had lost their lives in military service during those wars. The WWI bronze plaque was embedded in concrete beneath a flagpole. There were no WWII memorials bearing the names of those lost, so we researched government records and found those names. Dr. Jerry Flook, historian and contributor to the Garland Messenger, did the research. There was a ceremony held in the garden to unveil those plaques in conjunction with the celebration of Veteran’s Day of 11/11/11. The Garland Messenger had partnered with the City of Garland in order to make this possible. Those plaques are now on exhibit on a wall at the head of the garden.
During our search for memorials, Dr. Flook and I were told about a Vietnam War memorial in Central Park. We drove around the entire park and were amazed that there were no markers to lead us to such an important piece of history. We eventually found it, a large black marble memorial, seemingly unceremoniously plunked down in the middle of a parking lot. Our efforts to have it moved to the Veterans Tribute Garden began then and there.
We had been working with Jim Stone, who was director of parks and recreation at that time, and were almost convinced that the large marble memorial could not be moved. We were told that it was on piers reaching deep into the ground. Then there was the risk of breakage due to its age, and myriad other reasons to leave it where it was. There are 15 names of Garland citizens who lost their lives in US Military service during the Vietnam War, which ended on April 30, 1975.
John W. Armstrong COL
James F. Bean PFC
Ashland F. Burchwell 1LT
Stephan A. Davis SP4
Sterling C. Hendricks PFC
Luther M. Lasater, III CAPT
Everett L. Maxwell PFC
Wilbur L. Minter, Jr. LCPL
David K. Moneachi CPL
Michael D. Muse CPL
Larry D. Neasbitt SGT
Daniel G. Rogers PFC
Virgil L. Stephen LCPL
Tommie V. White PFC
Michael Terry Ursery SP4
Last Memorial Day the Noon Exchange Club of Garland contributed the Korean War Memorial plaque, and it has been placed on exhibit next to the plaques memorializing those lost in WWI and WWII. Since the memorials are being placed in chronological order, the Vietnam War Memorial should be next. At the dedication of the first two plaques, Mayor Ronald Jones said, “Nancy, don’t give up on this”, and I didn’t. Over the years I’ve done my best to create awareness of the Veterans Tribute Garden and the formerly inappropriate location of the Vietnam Memorial. In 2018 I led Mayor Lori Dodson to the monument in the park and the garden that borders Avenue B, behind the Senior Activity Center. She admitted that she too had been unaware of the existence of the Veterans Tribute Garden.
Out of the blue, in November of 2019, I received a text message from Lori Dodson. That message read: “The Vietnam War Memorial has been moved”. I responded with, “Has it been moved to the Veterans Tribute Garden”? Dodson’s replied, “Yes, I believe so”. At long last!
Lori Dodson later explained to me that she had been notified of the monuments moved by Garland’s Deputy City Manager, Mitch Bates. It had been like trying to open a combination lock over the past 9 years. Dodson to Bates had proven to be the right combination. Moving the large marble monument had not been an easy task. It probably weighs a couple of tons and definitely would have required heavy equipment to make the move. We were told the project was also assisted by some advise Cecil of the Williams Funeral Home. We are enormously grateful to all who helped bring that Vietnam War Memorial to its new location in the Veterans Tribute Garden. The garden is still a work in progress, and we will be researching the Middle East conflicts as there is a potential need to add to the wall. Come visit the garden and honor our Garland Patriots.