Garland Heroes Wrapped Up & Stored Away

Once upon a time there was something called the Veterans Tribute Garden, located in Downtown Garland,. It was hidden behind the Senior Activity Center, and virtually no one knew it was there when we tripped upon it in 2009. The activity center has been demolished, and the Veterans Tribute Garden has been dismantled. We’ve been told that its components have been carefully wrapped and stored away. 

The components of the VTG were bronze plaques, benches and bricks and a large marble monument.  The benches and bricks were purchased by families to honor members who had served in  United States Military Service.  There are names inscribed on those bricks and benches. The WW1, WW II, Korean War plaques and the Vietnam Memorial in marble bear the names of Garland citizens who gave their lives in service to our country.   The concrete benches, the marble monument and the bricks have little material value. The names are priceless and deserve a better fate than being stored in a warehouse. Those are the names of our local heroes, and deserve to be honored in a manner that evokes national and civic pride. There are also history lessons to be taught by displaying and honoring those names. 

A new Senior Activity Center will be erected on the same site as the former facility. It was proposed that the new site plan would include a Hero’s Plaza to be positioned in front of the building, providing outdoor activity space for the seniors, while also  attracting visitors. The bricks from the VTG could mark a trail from the Heroes Plaza to the currently under construction downtown square. The names of our heroes could be inscribed on fresh new surfaces, perhaps lighted with QR codes, providing a history lesson with just a tap on a phone. This was a very exciting proposal , but politics have apparently scuttled the plan. 

The site at 600 Avenue A, is located in District 2, unfortunately represented on the City Council by Deborah Morris.  She totally misses the point when she insists that the components of the VTG be a park area being created near the VA  Medical Facility, that occupies a portion of the now vacated Garland Hospital that had been taken over by Baylor Scott & White before closing down. Mrs. Morris, we don’t care about the concrete, marble or bronze, we just want to shine a light on those names. The hospital is located in Councilman Robert John Smith’s Council District 8, and we’re told he favored a stand alone location for the remnants of the VTG. Then there is the Department of Parks Recreation and Cultural Arts, who just happen to be in charge of the entire project. D’Lee Williams of that department advises that those proposed off site locations for the VTG components have no budgets. We’ve been around long enough to be able to interpret that “city speak”  as meaning, “it’s not gonna happen”. It’s kinda puzzling to note that they were able to scrape up a cool half million for a public restroom without a single hiccup. 

The City of Garland would get the biggest bang for its buck by creating the Heroes Plaza at the proposed  site on  Avenue A, now across from the old firehouse, the old power plant and the little Calaboose at the end. All very historic and freshly repurposed and paved. Just a block off the new square, with a posh new public restroom en route with the amazing new Heroes Plaza to attract strollers. Wouldn’t it be great?

Nancy Ghirla

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