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VFW dedicates monument

Dec. 11, 2010 at 6:11 a.m.

VFW Post 4146 member Orby Ledbetter listens as fellow Post members dedicate a new memorial surrounding the meeting hall's entrance on Loma Vista Dr. in Victoria on Saturday morning. Area businesses and the VISD Career and Development School's auto collision class donated labor and material to craft the memorial.

Humberto Benavides adjusted his Veterans of Foreign Wars cap as a small, proud smile crept over his face. More than eight months after Benavides thought of putting up a monument at the VFW Hall, the project was complete.

About 20 people gathered at the VFW Hall on Saturday morning to witness the dedication of a steel arch over the doorway with the words "In Honor of Those Who Served" cut out of a plate of quarter -inch thick steel. The black outlines of two soldiers flank either side of the door, a physical reminder of those who served.

"We haven't done anything like this to the VFW since it opened in 1979," Benavides said. "We're trying to honor those people who served. This is what the organization is about."

The project started eight months ago when Benavides, a VFW member who served in Vietnam, came up with the idea of making a memorial.

His fellow VFW members encouraged him and Benavides recruited a friend to design the monument. Then he went to work collecting the money.

The monument cost about $2,300 to put up. With the help of local businesses, the VFW paid only $326.10 for sandpaper and paint, VFW trustee Manuel Rivera said.

"It's about giving recognition to what these people have done. We're showing respect for what they've done for our country," Dean Balentine said.

Balentine said he was attending the event on behalf of Gladwin Paint Co., one of the donors for the project.

Gary Moses emceed the event, reading a speech written by Benavides thanking the donors for their help with the monument.

The monument was installed over the doorway six weeks ago. Benavides said they decided to have a dedication as a way of thanking the local businesses for their contributions.

U.S. Steel donated the steel for the project. Welders at Precision Welding cut the steel. Students from the auto collision class at VISD's Career and Technology Institute painted the steel cutouts black.

Student Nicholas Garcia said he and his classmates were glad to volunteer to paint the monument.

"We said 'Sure.' They've died for us. I think we should honor them," Garcia said.

Benavides and his fellow VFW members are proud of the new monument reminding people of their service, he said.

"It's for those who are serving now, and those who served before. It's for all of them," Benavides said.



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