'Providence Village park dedicated to heroes from all walks of life'
A circle of American flags marked the spot where the Hero Park monument will stand.
Memorial Day marked the dedication of Hero Park, the first town park in Providence Village, which is intended to honor service members, first responders and other community heroes. Eric Mattson, a Marine and Army veteran and former firefighter, came up with the idea.
Eric, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, wanted to see progress on the park before his disease advances more. He and his wife Karen Mattson are the founders of the Providence Village Hope Foundation, which has the goal of providing funding for Hero Park.
“I think for Eric the sense of immediacy of all of this happening, and … I know it was important for the board to reassure Eric that his vision was going to come to fruition,” Karen said.
And he does feel that reassurance.
“I felt very good about the board members and future of the foundation,” Eric said.
Because of his disease, Eric was unable to read his statement himself. Foundation Vice President Sina Tidwell spoke for him. Eric wrote about the significance of Memorial Day for him when he thinks of the service members who are killed as they serve.
“These gallant men and women sacrificed their lives to defend and uphold freedoms we hold precious,” Tidwell read. Eric listed three characteristics that classify someone as a hero: “courage, perseverance and selflessness.”
The park is estimated to cost $65,000, with $25,000 pledged by HistoryMaker Homes, foundation secretary Mayor Michael Jordan said at the ceremony. “It is fantastic that he’s able to be here for the dedication,” Jordan said. “I hope we’re going to have some action on [the park’s construction] really soon.”
A crowd of more than 50 people attended the dedication Monday morning, including U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess and Jared Patterson, the Republican candidate for state representative of District 106.
When he heard about the purpose of the park, Burgess said he felt the need to be involved in its dedication. At the event, he read his remarks that were entered into the congressional record that he presented in Washington, D.C., about Hero Park.
“While Heroes (sic) Park is a physical tribute to them, our gratitude and respect extends far beyond the confines of this land,” he read aloud. “I am grateful to join Providence Village Mayor Michael Jordan and Providence Village
Hope Foundation Founders Eric and Karen Mattson to dedicate this beautiful park, and to pay tribute to North Texas service members past and present.” He added a small aside after the reading. “Eric, it’s because of your vision,” he said.
Tidwell said she was grateful to Burgess, Patterson, Jordan and aldermen Blue, Linda Inman and James Connor for spending part of their Memorial Day honoring Providence Village’s heroes.
“I’m proud that our elected officials would take time out of their personal days on a holiday and come celebrate and dedicate the park with us.”
Many of the town’s children attended the ceremony Monday morning. Delilah Gilbert, a kindergartener at Monaco Elementary, was one of them.
She said her favorite part of the ceremony was when they talked about the veterans who had died while they served. She also said the park, which has several large trees, is a good spot. “You can just eat lunch there,” Delilah said.
Frankie Morales, a freshman at Aubrey High School, led the presentation of the colors by the Providence Village Scout Troop 1811.
“It felt great to be a part of something that … was forwarded by someone who has been very generous to our troops already so many times in the past,” he said.
In addition to the families, members of the Aubrey Providence Village Police Department and Aubrey Fire Department attended, as well as military veterans.
“For the community to recognize the fallen veterans, I mean, it’s just something you can’t be more thankful for,” said Bryan Johnston, a Cold War- Desert Storm Army veteran and Providence Village resident.