The idea of a War Memorial to honor all veterans of the twenty-six county area known as the Texas Panhandle is credited to Mr. L. D. weeks. Mr. Weeks, who resides in the area where the memorial is proposed to be erected, first got the idea when he noticed that a park was being built on an empty lot north of the Randall County Annex at Georgia St. and I-27. His efforts in researching the possibilitly of a Memorial to honor the veterans began to move forward.
In February of 1992, Mr. Weeks approached the Texas Panhandle Chapter 297, Viet Niam Veterans of America, Inc., With the idea for the memorial. Mr. weeks was instrumental in setting the first meeting. He informed the chapter that he had been in contact with the Randall County about using the piece of land next to the Annex.
The first meeting of concerned citizens(later known as the Citizens Memorial Committee) met on March 27, 1992 and was attended by L.D. Weeks, Bill Willis(Owner of Willis Granite Products), Pete Garcia(VVA's Committee Chair), terry Kirby (VVA member), Richard Izatt(VVA Chapter President), C.W. McMennamy(Randall County Judge), and John Dodson(Randall County Commissioner). Mr. Willis presented a proposed design to those present. It was agreed that the ideas presented by Mr. Willis were okay, providing that some modification could be made if the project was accepted as an undertaking. All participants were in agreement that the Memorial would be a wonderful attraction for the area and an excellent tribute to all veterans.
The Memorial design proposed by Mr. Willis consisted of an archway for entering the Memorial composed of red granite reaching over twn feet high. The archway would read "Texas Panhandle War Memorial: with an inscription beneath it which would read "In Honor of Our Men and Women That Gave Their Time and Lives to Preserve Our American Way of Life." As one enters and continues around the circumference of the memorial, they will encounter the first tribute to the veterans killed/missing from World War I.
A granite monolith (6'6" by 2'^') which depicts a short history of that war and where it took place. Behind the granite monolith one will find the names of the veterans killed/missing from the Texas Panhandle on separate tablets of granite. As one continues to circle the Memorial, separate tributes will be encountered for the veterans of World War II, Korea, VietNam and the Persian Gulf. Lastly one finds a tribute to the Spanish-American War with a history monolith. The complete Memorial will encompass an area of eighty (80) feet in diameter with the base constructed of concrete. The center of the Memorial will be enhanced with three step stage and three flg poles(American Flag, Texas Flag, and Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Flag).
The second meeting of the Citizens Memorial Committee was held on April 23, 1992, for final agreement that the project would be undertaken by the local VVA chapter. It was also agreed that the first step would be to get the approval of the Randall County Commissioners Court. Present at this meeting were Pete Garcia, Terry Kirby, Richard Izatt, Bill Willis, L.D. Weeks, C.W. McMenamy, John Dodson, Arthur Ware and Ernie Houdashell.
On april 27, 1992, chapter 297 submitted a proposal to the Commissioners Court in Canyon, TX. The commissioners court gave the project approval with a unanimous vote (5 to 0). It was expressed that the project would be undertaken at the annex property with the express understanding that it would be at no cost to Randall County(Story covered in the Amarillo Globe News.)
On June 9, 1992, Pete Garcia, Richard Izatt and John Dodson met with the Amarillo City Council members and their support for any future assistance was given.
The ground breaking ceremony and kick-off for the Memorial took place on July 4, 1992 at the memorial site. The ceremony was attended by over 100 people. varios veteran organizations were represented and agreed their support.
On March 30, 1994, the Texas Panhandle War Memorial Committee submitted Articles of Incorporation to the Texas Secretary of State to be incorporated as the Texas Panhandle War Memorial Foundation, Inc.(TPWMFI) A corporate number (number 01308300-01) was issued as a non-profit entity on April 11, 1994.
During September, 1994, the committee submitted the required application to the Internal REvenue Service, requesting determination as a non-profit, tax exempt corporation under regulation 501C 3, with the sole purpose of building the Memorial. Thiis status was granted on October 10, 1994. Due to US Postal Service problem, the notification was not received until May, 1995.
In October, 1995, the Board of Directors of the Foundation met to discuss the establishment of a new TPWMFI Committee, including the membership and a time line for the completion of the project. Meeting space for the board meeting was provided by Century 21 Boston Company Realtors on Bell Street.
The Board of Directors drew up plans for fundraising activities in 1996 which included the sale of Memorial items as Caps, coffee cups, bumper stickers, lapel pins, and plaques to individuals and corporations. Other forms of fundraising included briskets, sandwiches, a boothe at Tri-State Fair, golf tournaments, casino nights, and setting up booth at local Texas Indian Inter-Tribal Organization Pow-Wow every year. Although the events were profitable they were not generating the needed funds to really get the project off the ground. The objective of the TPWMFI Board had always been to raise the needed funds for the granite part of the Memorial only with the rest of the project being donated by the community.
The TPWMFI Board got a big boost from interested citizens of the community to move forward with the project. A meeting was held in 1999 at the Randall County Annex and attended by board members Terry Kirby and Pete Garcia, Amarillo Globe News Publisher, Mr. Garet Von Netzer, Ms. Jo Bagwell, Amarillo Globe News Marketing Director, and Randall County Commissioners, Mr. Gene Parker and Craig Gualtiere. The group discussed the Memorial project and what was needed to complete the project. Mr. Von Netzer was instrumental in locating the needed funds to get the cement work completed.
It was during this time in 1999 that Pete Garcia formed a committee to research and write up the histroy information that was to be inscribed on the descriptive monoliths, the committee was made up of Mr. John Kanelis, Amarillo Globe News, Mr. Terry Moo9re, Professor at Amarillo College, and Mr. Edward Morris, Amarillo Attorney.
The archway was dedicated on November 11, 1999(Veterans Day) to all living veterans.
The Globe News made the Texas Panhandle War Memorial a Celebrate 2000 project and brought together interested parties to help complete the War Memorial Project(Communitty corporations that provided funding for the Celebrate 2000 projects, Krause Landscaping that did the landscaping, and The Texas Potter-Randall Counties Master Gardners spearheaded by Ms. Barbara Harrington). The Master Gardners planted a flower garden in the center of the memorial site with a Red, White and Blue Theme.
On May 30, 2000(Memorial Day) the descriptive monolith for all the conflicts were dedicated.
After research of the names a dedication of the name tablets for Persian Gulf, Korea, and VietNam was held on November 11, 2000(Veterans Day).
The fundraising efforts for the project continued during the year 2001 and collaboration between various parties involved in the project. Follow up with West Texas A&M University who had initially agreed to have a monolith at the War Memorial site to honor all students that attended the university since it was founded in 1910 and had been killed or missing. Ms. Dana Olmstead agreed to spearhead the efforts for the university.
It was after the Veteran Day Ceremony on November 11, 2001 that the TPWMFI Board was contacted with the news of an anonymous donor. The donor provided the needed funds ($83,000) to complete the project,
On May 30, 2002,(Memorial Day) after researching the names for World War I and World War II, the monolith tablets for World War I, World War II, and West Texas A&M University were dedicated.
The TPWMFI Board of Directors continued with fundraising to purchase needed lighting and side walk in front of the project area. The Potter-Randall Master Gardeners have agreed to plant a hedge all around the War Memorial to make it more private and continue the expansion of the flower garden.
The Texas Panhandle War Memorial Project is scheduled for completion by the end of the year in 2002. a grand dedication of the project is scheduled for Memorial Day 2003.