New Veterans Memorial Offers Learning and Healing

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

GAINES COUNTY - They've never had common ground, but with hundreds of veterans on the roster folks in Gaines County decided it was time to give back. Soon if you're driving down Highway 385, they'll have a memorial you won't be able to miss - offering not just a chance to learn but a chance to heal.

"There are no two men closer to being brothers than men who have shared a foxhole," Steve Boyer, Architect and Veteran said. "There are deep feelings of emotions."

Emotions that until now have only been expressed in words. But the people who live in Gaines County decided that wasn't enough.

"I put it out there because we need to recognize the Veterans here in Gaines County," Johnny Hernandez with Gaines County Veterans Services and Creator, said. "We've needed it for a long time."

They're taking a portion of the Gaines County Park and turning it into a memorial - for the almost 700 vets who live in their County.

"Hopefully something like this will bring the County closer together," Hernandez said. "We can do more as far as recognizing veterans."

But what makes the drawings special is their artist. Steve Boyer isn't just any architect - he's a 20-year Gaines Veteran. And with every pencil stroke and sketch, he didn't just design a memorial, he healed personal scars only a war can leave.

"Sometimes the memories aren't pleasant," Boyer said. "Sometimes the memories are just down-right cooky. I want them to be able to walk around this place, see their own name and the names of other men who served in the same war or same action."

His drawings detail several large rings: the outer layer spells out each veteran's name, another layer describes the wars they fought, and the inner circle remembers those who died in combat.

"Part of the connection is from the past to the future, just as the memorial itself will be," Boyer said.

The planners say it will not only honor Gaines troops, but any Veteran will be eligible to have their name on the walls.

"I want some of them to have those memories and deal with those memories to be able to get that close to their fellow men," Boyer said.

Last week, the Commissioners Court gave unanimous approval to give an acre and a half of the Gaines Park for the memorial. Members of the Veterans Board are raising money through donations and grants. They plan to break ground sometime before next summer.