The Price of Liberty

Published 12:16 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas — Since September 11, 2001 and the Global War on Terror, millions of men and women have chosen to serve in the various branches of the U.S. military. As a way to honor those who have served the state of Texas, a small group of dedicated patriots is seeking to raise funds to construct and dedicate “The Price of Liberty” monument at the Texas Capitol, in Austin, in late 2017.

While attending a national Military Family Conference over six years ago with his military spouse, Retired Army Colonel, James Stryker, discovered that several states had already established or were in the process of establishing monuments to honor service members serving since September 11, 2001. To his amazement, no such memorial existed for Texas service members.

“I wondered why Texas, one of the largest contributors of military personnel, had not built a monument to honor these volunteers,” said Stryker. “I did not want these service members and their families to wait 40 years, like Texas Vietnam Veterans, to see that Texas appreciated their sacrifices. After all, can you imagine a son or daughter of a fallen service member waiting until they were adults to see their mom or dad honored?”

With his wife serving in the Texas National Guard and deploying to Afghanistan, Stryker witnessed first-hand many soldiers and their families make the necessary sacrifices to serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, or other overseas locations. A regular face at deployment ceremonies, it is the memories and images of those families that make this monument so important.

“I remember one mother in particular, walking to board the plane, her daughter crying, “Mommy, don’t go!” causing the soldier-mom to cry, but not falter, as she bravely left for Iraq,” said Stryker.

It is from this image that “The Price of Liberty” Memorial was born. As such, Stryker teamed up with the Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation, a §501 (c)(3) organization, and hired artist Sandra Van Zandt who made a clay model and with members of the Foundation, to design the final monument. The monument is unique in several ways. First, the group wanted to honor not only the veterans, but also persons irrefutably affected by deployments – the families. These spouses, children, parents and siblings sacrifice and face challenges that many non-service families do not face. In addition, to make the monument distinctly Texan, the artist modeled Lady Liberty in “The Price of Liberty” monument after the Goddess of Liberty on the Texas Capitol dome.

Having built the model, members of the Foundation, steered by Mr. Stan Lenox III, of the Association of the United States Army, secured the required legislation to place the monument on the Texas Capitol Grounds. Governor Abbott signed the legislation into law on June 10, 2015.

“As a state, we owe it to our great service members and their families to build this monument to honor them and provide a place for them to reflect on their service, a place to heal and know that fellow-Texans appreciate their sacrifices,” said Stryker. “It also serves as a place to reflect and as a reminder for all, even those who have not served, that there is a high price for liberty.”

In addition to the bronze memorial for the Texas Capitol, a “Living Memorial” has been established, in the form of an online repository to archive and communicate the history of Texans in the Global War on Terror. Visitors to the Living Memorial will be able to read real accounts and stories, view photos and videos. Visitors can search names, units, hometowns, service branches, etc. to assist them in accessing the stories of Texans from all regions. It will be a place to share, to learn, to remember and to heal. Stryker hopes to attract a museum or college that will maintain the Living Memorial indefinitely.

The “Price of Liberty Memorial” will honor 225,000 Texans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq; over 700 Texas military members (to date) that paid the ultimate sacrifice; thousands of wounded warriors and all Texas Veterans, and their families, who served after September 11, 2001. The goal is to raise funds to build and provide an endowment for future maintenance of “The Price of Liberty Memorial.”

Those interested in contributing stories/photographs or donating to “The Price of Liberty” Memorial(s), can do so via the website or by mail at Texas War Memorial, 3706 Crawford Street, Austin, TX 78731. We are a §501 (c)(3) organization.