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World War I monument gets facelift

By APRILL BRANDON
May 7, 2010 at 12:07 a.m.

Contractor Cesar Hernandez, right, and Peter Riesz with the Veterans Council prepare the mounting bracket on the World War I monument Friday. The new ornate plaque includes many names not listed before.

The unveiling and rededication of the new World War I memorial will be at 11 a.m. Monday, May 31, in front of the Victoria County courthouse. The speaker for the event will be Gary Dunnam.

Sixty-seven years ago, a plaque honoring the soldiers who died in World War I was dedicated on the steps of the Victoria County courthouse.

Eleven names were mistakenly left off the plaque, however, and the wear and tear of time made the original 39 names hard to read.

This Memorial Day, however, all will be rectified when the Victoria County Veterans Council unveils and rededicates a new World War I memorial.

"The plaque has 11 more names we found and all the names are now more accurate, including more middle names," said Dr. Peter Riesz, council treasurer and chairman of the monument committee. "They're also now all listed in alphabetical order. A memorial like this should be all inclusive, and while I have no idea why those 11 names were left off the original, to the best of my knowledge, all the names are included now and they are more easily identified."

The new memorial was a project taken on by the Veterans Council, which is composed of 10 local veteran organizations, and was approved by the Victoria County Commissioners Court. One of the key things about the new memorial is that it comes at no expense to the taxpayer, Riesz said. Costing more than $2,000, it was paid for by a $2,000 grant from the Crossroads Foundation and money raised by the veterans council.

The new World War I memorial, which is located in front of the courthouse on the Victoria County Veterans Plaza, is just phase one of a much bigger plan.

"Eventually we want to redo the World War II plaque, which is missing at least 22 names and the Vietnam and Korean memorials also," Riesz said.

The new plaque was made by All-Craft Wellman Products Inc. of Willoughby, Ohio. The old plaque will be placed in the Victoria County Archives.

The re-dedication will be 11 a.m. May 31 at the Victoria County Courthouse. If all goes according to plan, the unveiling will be done by Elsie Wurdel, whose father died in World War I and who unveiled the original plaque in 1937, Riesz said.

"We felt it was appropriate for her to do it again this time for the monument," he added.

Although the plaque has gotten a facelift and several additions to it, the one thing that hasn't changed is the inscription honoring the fallen. At the top of the plaque can still be seen the original words of the 1937 plaque:

"In memory of our country's defenders from Victoria County who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War."

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