CONROE, Texas — Residents and visitors came out in the thousands this Memorial Day in Conroe as the city celebrates the new Montgomery County Veterans Park.
"This shows the sacrifice," said Jimmie Edwards, a veteran and retired Montgomery County judge. "This is for the fallen for Montgomery County."
Edwards lost both his legs during the Vietnam War, but that didn't stop his commitment to honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Today marked the end of a dream four years in the making as Montgomery County officials celebrated the new park.
"Well, this is a remarkable park," said U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, said. "Perhaps one of the best in Texas because it's a living memorial. It's a dynamic park. It brings the old commemoration of our fallen heroes together with the new, and every year, more is added to this park."
Edwards first put the ideas to paper back in 2017 and wanted to move the city's original war memorial to a proper space over a city block wide. Many of these meetings happened at a local Italian restaurant, owned by Conroe resident Joe Haliti, who offered to host a fundraiser for the new memorial.
"Basically, it was an idea," said Joe Haliti, owner of Joe's Italian Restaurant in Conroe. "It was on paper, but it definitely didn't have a budget. It had a zero budget. So, we started from there, and it was wonderful that the whole county, our community... our county leaders, our city leaders stepped in and helped out and made it happen."
And the community did make it happen – bringing in over $125,000 for the new park. The city of Conroe donated 3.4 acres to build a location near the intersection of Interstate 45 and Highway 105.
The plans called for new plaques to detail America's role in history's wars and conflicts and join the last memorial's tribute to the fallen.
Thousands chose to spend their Memorial Day at the new park as officials said at least 2,000 people attended today. Among the crowds were Montgomery County veterans and active-duty service members.
Officials said the celebrations not only honored service to America, but the Texas fight for independence. But officials said a major focus looks toward the future tonight as 12 local men and women left civilian life behind and took their oaths of enlistment into the U.S. Army during the festivities.
Edwards said today's grand opening continues this community's long tradition of honoring its heroes. He hopes this park will be a place where residents can champion our fallen – and remember their sacrifice for generations to come.
"This line will continue," Edwards said. "You can fill out applications every day. We will dedicate on Veteran's Day and Memorial Day from now on. This line will extend all the way down the line of this park. It's called the line because we hold the line and because we're united."