The Wichita County cemetery is lacking when is comes to a peaceful place to lay loved ones to rest. So, a group of Texoma Veterans are honoring those who came before them, by providing a resting place they deserve.
The North Texas Veterans Council and Elks Lodge are teaming up to raise money for a pavilion to be built at the Wichita County cemetery. It's a cemetery most Texomans may not realize exists. "If you talk to a normal person, they wouldn't even know we had a county cemetery, let alone where it's at," said Richard Bruce, Treasurer of the North Texas Chapter of the Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans.
The Wichita County cemetery is located at 1001 30th Street in Wichita Falls, but without any sort of pavilion and considering the vast, wide open space it occupies, a couple of signs seem to be the only evidence the cemetery actually exists.
In addition, untamed weeds are taking away from the numerous tombstones that mark the final resting place for some of Texoma's very own war heroes. In death, Bruce said, these war heroes have been unjustly forgotten.
"A veteran does more than just go and be in the military. A veteran serves his country, serves it with pride and to have to come out here and be buried in something like this it's just not right. A lot of people don't realize that freedom is not free," said Bruce.
It is difficult to imagine any sort of respectable funeral on these grounds.
President of the North Texas Chapter of the Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans Dick Crislip said, "How distressed a family is when they're having a funeral, limited means, they have no money, and this is all they have, and suppose it was raining right now... We'd be standing out here in the middle of the rain. In the summertime, it's 110 degrees out here and there's absolutely no shade. And this is just not a way that a person should have to be put away."
In fact, no one knew about these veterans until about one year ago, thanks to the late Wichita County Veterans' Service Officer Glen Eickman.
"He came out here once and saw what was going' on and he decided he would try to do something about it," Richard Bruce told Newschannel 6.
Now, with the loss of a close friend and huge part of Texoma's veteran community, these veterans are picking things up where Eickman left off. They're building a memorial pavilion for families of the forgotten in Eickman's memory.
To raise the $25,000 needed to build the pavilion, the North Texas Veterans Council is hosting a dinner and auction May 5.
If you want to attend or if you want to donate items to the cause, make sure you get your tickets before Saturday, April 28.
Further information about the fundraiser event and the memorial:
The Veteran's Council Meal & Auction Fundraiser
In Support of the Wichita County Cemetery Pavilion
When: Saturday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Elks Lodge 1105, 4205 Seymour Hwy
Tickets to attend:
- $20 per person
- Must be purchased before Saturday, April 28!
- Tickets will not be available at the door
To purchase tickets or to donate items for auction, contact Dick Crislip at (940) 761-4364.
Donations may be made by check to "The North Texas Veterans Council" with the designation:
"For the cemetery pavilion" and mailed to The Office of the County Judge
900 Seventh Street, Wichita Falls, TX 76301