Honoring service, sacrifice
Veterans and Pilot Point residents will gather on The Square Saturday for the reveal of a long-awaited World War I monument.
The memorial project began four years and was spearheaded by Bob Albrecht, owner of Lowbrows Beer and Wine Garden, who died in June. Albrecht’s wife, Cheri, and daughter Gretchen Vasquez will do the actual unveiling, said Tori Wells, project organizer and chairwoman of the Pilot Point Historic Review Board.
The event begins at 11 a.m.
Wells said this is the only WWI memorial in Texas and Oklahoma honoring those who served and died from both states with hand-stamped replica dog tags; Texans and Oklahomans served together. Saturday is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.
Roughly 8,500 dog tags will be on the granite memorial, and they will be arranged “similar to an abacus,” Wells said.
Wells told The Post-Signal in 2014 that the purpose of the project was to honor the soldiers who fought in the war and to “challenge the public to discover their heritage, their history.”
At the ceremony, the Pilot Point High School drumline will perform and the Vaughn-Walling American Legion Post American Legion Post 550 will present the colors. Mayor Shea Dane-Patterson will maje opening remarks, and Pilot Point police Chief Tim Conner will give a speech.
Conner, an Air Force veteran, said he had a rough draft of his speech. Although he said he gets anxious speaking in public, he said it was “quite an honor” and ‘humbling” to be asked to speak.
“I hope I do it justice,” he said.
The memorial will include dog tag replicas of people who served from Texas and Oklahoma, and Wells said her group has the first statewide alphabetized list of fallen soldiers.
“Bob Albrecht and I were trying to figure out what men we lost from Pilot Point in that world,” she said.
Organizers discovered the difficulty of finding records.
“In trying to find the names of these men, we embarked on this humongous undertaking of a crazy journey, and we just wanted to [honor] all of them,” Wells said.
Project volunteers received lists of people who served from 254 counties in Texas and 77 counties in Oklahoma.
Veterans and community volunteers hand-stamped the dog tags. Wells said the group purchased the hand-stamping kits, and each letter was individually hand-stamped on the dog tag. The dog tags will be listed alphabetically.
“It took three years to complete,” Wells said about the project.
Wells appreciates the work of the American Legion Auxiliary-Unit 550 for their time and effort on the project.
World War I, which began in 1914, claimed the lives of nearly 10 million combatants and 7.7 million civilians.
Conner said Veterans Day is a time to reflect.
“I think it’s really important that we take the time to honor and thank those who have served,” Conner said.