Imagine this scene. Brightly wrapped presents rest under the tree. Stockings hang from the mantel, each bearing an embroidered name. The “MOM” stocking holds a spa package gift certificate. “DAD” will find a pen from the local spy shop that writes but also clearly records voices. Inside the “JOE” stocking, front row tickets to the Vipers game. And inside the stockings marked “ISAIAH” and “MONICA” are two very different certificates. These certificates read:

Thank you for our priceless gift of freedom.

This is our gift to you to be sure it is never forgotten.

Merry Christmas.

Love,

Mom and Dad

A sheet of paper, folded lengthwise, explains:

The design for the Memorial Building at the Veteran’s War Memorial of Texas in McAllen is complete. Before it can be built, they need corporate sponsors. They also need citizens wishing to commemorate the service of someone they love to donate money. The names of veterans can be engraved on bricks, benches and flagpoles at the Memorial.

We are so proud of both of you and so grateful to you for serving our country, so we decided to have your names engraved on a bench. “Isaiah and Monica, brother and sister, U.S. Marines. Thank you for our gift of freedom.”

The first phase of the Veteran’s War Memorial commemorates World War II veterans. Eight granite walls form an octagon, and pathways allow visitors to walk around these walls to read historical information and the names of veterans who served our country. In this area, visitors will also see life-size and lifelike statues sculpted by Douglas Clark. The Women of History statues are among the most recent additions. Each woman wears the uniform of a different branch of the military.

According to Jan O’Dell Hartzog, author of Vanishing Heroes and one of the Memorial volunteers, there was a high demand for the Vietnam section of the Memorial to be built next. Included in this area of the facility are eight Vietnam History walls, a 173rd Airborne Brigade wall, a Texans Killed in the Vietnam War wall and a Major U.S. Combat Unit Casualties in Vietnam wall. These words are inscribed in the center column of the Major U.S. Combat Unit Casualties in Vietnam wall: The major combat units listed on this wall suffered 98 percent of the Americans killed in hostile action. Their sacrifices and the losses suffered by their families must not be forgotten by a grateful Nation. Remember. A statue of Lt. Gen. James Francis Hollingsworth stands guard over the Vietnam War area.

Next to be constructed was the Korean War area. Among the walls in this section are the Bentsen Family history wall and the City of Mercedes Memorial Wall. The City of Mercedes, on behalf of its citizens, dedicated this wall on Memorial Day, May 25, 2009, to honor fallen heroes from their city.

The All Wars area of the Memorial includes a wall dedicated to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. A brief description of all wars is included on the walls in this section of the complex.

The newest wall in the complex is dedicated to U.S. Military Chaplains. On the wall are the words Pro Deo Et Patria: For God and Country. According to the information on this wall, from 1775 to date, 402 chaplains have lost their lives in combat.

The World War I section is under construction and is the fifth and final war section of the Memorial.

The Memorial Building, which will stand as the centerpiece of the complex, will be the final addition to the Veteran’s War Memorial of Texas in McAllen. According to the Memorial’s website (http://www.mcallen.net/veterans/default.aspx), its roofline will symbolize an eagle’s wings as it soars in flight. A 105-foot-tall granite spire will reach from the floor of the building, through the roof and into the sky. This Memorial spire will honor all of our country’s veterans who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.

The Memorial Building will have five doors, each one leading to one of the five war sections. Above each door will be a stained glass window depicting a scene from the corresponding war. The stained glass window for the door leading to the WWII section is the only one that has already been designed. It will bring to life the four chaplains aboard the USS Dorchester who passed out life jackets, including their own, so men on the ship could be saved before the ship sank. These four heroic chaplains sang hymns throughout the ordeal, and all four lost their lives, along with an estimated 675 servicemen. Many others lived because of the selfless act of the chaplains.

There will be a small chapel and a gift shop inside the Memorial Building, as well. A variety of artwork will be on display in the facility for various patriotic holidays and days of remembrance.

The Memorial Building will be an educational facility. Over 10,000 brief historical stories will be available. Through a partnership with the Region I Education Service Center (ESC), schools throughout Texas and the United States will have access to these historical vignettes. Historical data will begin with the Revolutionary War and span through the years to include our current wars. Some of the state’s ESCs, along with Texas teachers, are developing lesson plans and supplementary materials that will be ideal to complement the Memorial. Computers will be available so visitors can look up war-related historical data.

“This facility will tell the story of how we got to this point and all of the sacrifices it took to get here,” said Hartzog.

Hartzog said the Veteran’s War Memorial is a wonderful site for field trips, family outings or a peaceful walk. It is a popular site for school field trips already. The weddings of two military couples have been held there and the ashes of several veterans are interred on the grounds.

Hartzog said the vision and tireless efforts of Col. Frank Plummer have been the driving force behind this site honoring our veterans.

“Colonel Plummer spent two years traveling across the country for inspiration and ideas,” Hartzog said. “He designed it. This complex is larger than the World War II monument in Washington, D.C.”

Col. Plummer’s work has been a gift to the Rio Grande Valley, as has the support of the McAllen City Commission, corporate sponsors like HEB and Wal-Mart and numerous individuals.

There is still time to commemorate a veteran and support the Veteran’s War Memorial. You can contact Col. Plummer at 631-2511 or at plummerf@att.net. This is a stocking stuffer that would be remembered for years to come.