Fort Hood November 5th, 2009 Memorial

Gallery of Renderings

Artist’s Concept

Sculptor Troy Kelley’s presentation delivered at the unveiling
of the Ft. Hood November 5, 2009 Memorial Garden in Killeen, Texas, on November 5, 2010.

First of all I want to thank SPJST and the city of Killeen for accepting my design for this important memorial. I consider it a great honor as a sculptor and as a Vietnam Veteran to have it chosen.

When I discovered that SPJST was having a meeting to discuss the possibility of a memorial to be located in Killeen, I thought how wonderful, that people in the community wanted to honor the victims of November 5, 2009 with such a memorial. This is what America is all about. A community of people helping people.

After serving in Vietnam and as a retired veteran I have very strong feelings about what had occurred at Ft. Hood and I have a great affection for all service members. I wanted future generations to know the history of what had taken place on November 5, 2009, but most of all I wanted to honor the victims that through no fault of their own gave their life on that horrible day.

After the meeting as I was driving back to my studio in Salado I began to think about some of the symbolic elements that I felt should be included in the design of the memorial. The centerpiece would be a large United States Flag, which represents unity. I also wanted the shape of a circle. By the time I reached my studio I had composed in my mind the design I felt could be a monument, which would commemorate the victims with the reverence, dignity and future hope for the family and for the community of Killeen and Ft. Hood.

The monument incorporates the following symbolic elements:

  • The roof at the center of the gazebo should be open to the sky with a large 70 foot flagpole reaching upward. The United States flag is a symbol of victory and self-assertion and according to George Washington, the flag shows the stars of heaven, the red of mother earth and the color white, of independence and purity.
  • On the top of the flagpole pole will be an American eagle, which signifies the strength of the Nation. When portrayed holding an olive branch, in it’s right talon, it symbolizes peaceful intention. The bundle of thirteen (13) arrows represents the thirteen original states of the Union, and signifies Americans readiness for war when a defense against aggression becomes necessary and it is my belief that defense is necessary.
  • Four (4) large lights will light the flag at night shinning straight up past the flag height. Light traditionally is equated with the spirit, immediately recognizable by its luminous intensity. Light is also the manifestation of morality and intellect. The number of four lights symbolizes, north south, east and west, the four directions of America. Because the flag is lit, it does not need to be lowered everyday. A new flag could be raised in a ceremony every year on 5 November.
  • At the base of the flagpole would be a black granite stone in the shape of a three (3) sided pyramid. On one of the surfaces is a description of the 5 November 2009 event. On another surface are the names of the victims and on the final surface is a list of the wounded.
  • Around the base of the flagpole the pavement is in the shape of a circle, which is a perfect shape containing the whole universe, spirit, mind and matter. The circle signifies unity that has neither a beginning nor end.
  • On the outside perimeter of the gazebo is a circle of thirteen (13) black granite columns in the shape of a triangle approximately four (4) feet high by eighteen inches (18) wide. The three sides of each of the columns will include an engraved portrait, name and a message or poem written by the family or friend about the person honored.
  • On top of the column will be a favorite object of that person while living. For an example, the object could be a sport trophy, book, belt buckle, military awards, or even a teddy bear. A mold will be made from the object and then cast in bronze.

It is my hope that the people visiting the memorial will understand that the name and objects represents a life, a family, a hometown, and a country, and that person gave their life for all of those things. So they deserve to be remembered and honored not by just Americans but by all the people of the world.

The columns will be placed in front of the shade trees but under the eaves of the gazebo with a stone bench between each column for family and visitors to sit.

It is also my hope that future generations will visit this memorial and take time to have empathy with the victims and their families. This is why I feel strongly about the description of the event to show how vulnerable we all are and that any of us at any given moment can be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In designing this memorial I was reminded of something Carl Sandburg wrote. I hope all the young people in this audience listen to these words and take it to heart.

“I see America, not in the setting of a black light of despair ahead of us; I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning hand of God. I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and women of vision.”