Fraternal Activity Breathes New Life into Texas-Based Society
I know I’ve talked about the SPJST-led effort to create a living memorial to 13 American soldiers who were so senselessly killed at Fort Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009. But because the project seems to have rejuvenated the entire organization – as well as inspired a host of other businesses and individuals to get involved – I thought it was worth mentioning again.
The press coverage of SPJST’s initiative has helped generate a real fervor for the project in the region. SPJST CEO Brian Vanicek’s ability to tell the society’s story effectively is paying real dividends by raising the profile of the project, the organization, and the fraternal system. Here’s a condensed version of Brian’s comments at a recent news conference…
The City of Killeen -- by virtue of its proximity to Fort Hood -- is an army town. The military presence represents the single-most defining characteristic of this community. On Thursday, November 5, 2009, gunfire erupted inside the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood. Thirteen people were killed and 32 were wounded. The victims were mainly men and women who were preparing to deploy to battle zones or who had recently returned from them. That afternoon, 13 Americans were sacrificed for their country -- not on the distant soils of Iraq or Afghanistan -- but down the street in Fort Hood, Texas.
Thanks to the heroic intervention of Killeen police officers, Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd, the rampage was brought to an end. Recent reports on the shootings provide details to some of the activities surrounding the tragic event. Even so, there can never be a justification for what took place. Our hearts go out to the families of the soldiers and the civilian worker who were killed. May they rest in peace.
And may we -- as fellow Americans -- honor the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters here in the City of Killeen. The SPJST is committed to keeping alive the memory of those who died at Fort Hood and of all men and women whose lives have been sacrificed for liberty and freedom. Working as partners with the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, we anticipate a
May 1st groundbreaking for The Fort Hood Living Memorial Garden. The location of the Garden will be on a site adjacent to the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Preliminary plans for the Garden include an aerated pond and gazebo nestled among trees with flowering plants outlining walkways in a serene, picturesque setting. It should be a peaceful and beautiful place where residents and visitors to the city can pause to reflect on the lives that have been lost in defense of the liberty and freedom we know -- and all too often take for granted.
It is the intention of the SPJST in spearheading this project that a Memorial Garden Planning Group be established to provide a mechanism for developing, maintaining and enhancing the Garden and adjacent spaces. Interested groups -- civic organizations, churches, schools, veterans organizations, fraternal societies and businesses -- as well as individuals are all invited to help plan and participate in the project. In the ensuing weeks, we will be appealing to the public and to the private sector for their participation in this effort. Donations will be tax-deductible. Checks may be made payable to the Fort Hood Living Memorial Garden and directed to SPJST Home Office or to the Killeen Civic and Conference Center:
SPJST Home Office
P.O. Box 100
Temple, Texas 76503
Killeen Civic & Conference Center
Convention & Visitors Bureau
3601 S. WS Young Drive
Killeen, Texas 76540
Want to learn more about this project – and, more importantly, how your society can join forces with SPJST to support it? Here are a couple of links that will help. You can also call Brian at (254) 773-1575.
What’s your society doing that’s worth noting here? Let me know so I can share your story with others, or simply post details on your activities by using the comment box below.