By Jug Varner
To those of us involved, raising $50,000 to build a granite monument for our little community seemed like a huge challenge in 1995, particularly when so few residents seemed interested in our idea – at first.
The Lakeway (Texas) Historical Society wanted to do something of lasting historic significance for both our nation and our community, so we designed and constructed a memorial to hometown veterans.
A World War Two monument was the centerpiece around which we later added a wall for Korean veterans, a wall for Vietnam veterans, and a fountain honoring those on the home front who contributed to the wars. Above the entry gateway was engraved the name we selected for the memorial, “The Spirit of Freedom,” and on the reverse side, we added the motto: “Freedom is not Free.”
Three flagpoles centered behind the monument display the United States, Texas, and Lakeway flags. Spotlights timed for sunrise and sunset allow them to fly 24-hours a day, symbolizing the vigilance and readiness of our act ive and reserve military personnel.
The remaining elements of the memorial include: An entry path from the parking area, a pentagon shaped 25' concrete viewing walk around the center monument, benches, landscaping, and six chrome guard stanchions connected by chains as an entry to the viewing walk.
Our $50,000 paled by comparison to the millions of dollars various organizations sought for memorials in Washington, D.C. Most of them are still struggling to meet their indebtedness and operational costs. I dare say their grand scale is no more impressive than our smaller design turned out to be — and ours was paid for when it was dedicated.
Atop the obelisk rests a five-sided stainless steel star symbolizing the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Gold Star Mothers whose sons were killed in the war, the star of each state in our national flag, and the Lone Star of Texas.
Engraved on each side of the obelisk is the seal of each branch of the five services. Below each seal on the five-sided plinth are the names of those who served in that branch, inscribed alphabetically without rank. There are more than 500 veterans listed.
Each side of the base is inscribed with the years from 1941 to 1945. Above the dates is this message: “A tribute to the Lakeway residents who served in World War II. Dedicated Sept. 2, 1995, the 50th anniversary of its ending.”
We unveiled the completed memorial in just 70 days, on Veterans Day, 1995. It was a beautiful, emotional, and heart warming event that included the local high school band, a color guard, a fly-over of vintage WWII aircraft, and participation of military veterans. I don't believe there was a dry eye during these ceremonies.
It was my special privilege to be a part of it from beginning to end. To me it is truly a special monument to both Lakeway and the nation, and I just wanted to share this special event with you — especially now, at a time of renewed patriotism and appreciation for our armed services and the millions of veterans who have given so much to our country.
Lakeway is about 18 miles WNW of Austin, along Ranch Road 620. The memorial site is located near the intersection of Lohman's Crossing Rd and Hurst Creek Rd.