Historic Kerr County photographs available!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dedicated To Their Memory

Dedication Ceremony, WWI Memorial Park,
Kerrville, 1938
Did you know we have a park in Kerrville dedicated to the memory of Kerr County soldiers who gave their lives for our country in World War I?
Neither did I until a friend brought by some old photographs by the print shop last week, although I've passed by the little park several thousand times. It's likely you have passed it, too.
The park is located at what was once the gateway to the city, at the intersection of Broadway and Water streets. The joined streets become Memorial Boulevard. It's the little triangle of land opposite the Union Church, which is on the western tip of the campus of Schreiner University, and also opposite the Raphael Community Free Clinic.  Recent utility work has left a unsightly slab of concrete and various utility boxes marring the site.
Before IH10 sliced through our county, all traffic between San Antonio and El Paso passed this little triangle of land; that route was called the Old Spanish Trail, and it stretched from Florida to California, just like IH10.
So, in 1938, when the park was dedicated, it was the entrance to our community, and the park was chosen for its prominent location.
The photograph shows a group of women standing behind a carved stone on which a bronze plaque is mounted. On either side of the women are two men with U. S. flags. Behind them a group has gathered, and you can see a tent (similar to funeral home tents) in the background.
Looking at the photograph, I thought I recognized some of the women, and so I had to research the photograph. I found it featured on the front page of the July 7, 1938 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
"Gold Star Mothers Attend Dedication of War Memorial," the headline read. At the time of the dedication, almost 20 years had passed since World War I ended. (That anniversary would come in November, 1938.)
According to the story, "the site of the park was purchased by the Civic League from the county commissioners, and the marker was given by Mr. and Mrs. Garland Lang. The city of Kerrville will care for the spot...."
There was a "massing of colors," while the "'Call to Colors' was sounded by the buglers from the Boy Scouts.
"Col. L. H. Webb, medical officer in charge of the U. S. Veterans facility at Legion, served as master of ceremonies, and called the names of Kerrville's glorious dead, telling something of their lives, and introduced the Gold Star Mothers."
The past commander of the State Department of the American Legion attended, and a man named Dean Martin gave a speech.
He said "people were gathered for a memorial day, for a day of dedication, to pay tribute of respect to the memory of those men from our county, our homes, who, answering the call of duty went down to the Valley of the Shadow and there answered the last roll call. In giving freely they gave their all and now sleep where the poppies bloom, 'between the crosses, row on row.'
"We are gathered," Dean Martin said, "to link the present with the past, and to face the future unafraid. 'Optimism without frivolity, seriousness without despair.'
"War means mothers who look for letters they will never see, wives who wait for voices they will never hear, and children who listen for footsteps that will never come."
The Gold Star Mothers pictured at the dedication were (on the front row) Mrs. Faust Merritt, Mrs. W. G. Garrett, Mrs. W. P. Cowden, Mrs. Eddie Kaiser, and Mrs. E. W. Baker. On the back row were Mrs. Mark Mosty (representing her brother, Robert Spicer), Mrs. Della Sommers (representing her brother, Grover Hollimon), and Mrs. Knox (representing her brother, Randolph Davis). The color bearers in the photograph are George Hauer and E. E. Kelsey, V. F. W. members.
This Memorial Day weekend, as you pass by the little park, remember the men for whom it was built, and the mothers' tears with which it was dedicated. It is a quiet little memorial and we often pass it by without notice.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who will certainly miss his father-in-law, Irv Gregory, who passed away Tuesday. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 27, 2017.






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