Wall of tears: Texas Fallen Soldiers Memorial opens at Victoria Mall
April 13, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated April 12, 2011 at 11:13 p.m.
People have called it the ultimate sacrifice.
And as Nicki Lowry's eyes scanned panels filled with 4-by-4 inch ceramic tiles, the impact of why suddenly hit her.
Rows of stout, lively faces of fallen Texas soldiers, men and women, stared back at her as she continued through the traveling Texas Fallen Soldiers Memorial, which was opened at the Victoria Mall's center court on Wednesday.
"Take a moment. Stop, look and think," said Lowry, whose husband, Nick, is a three-time Purple Heart recipient.
Though Lowry's husband was injured in the Iraq war, he came back home.
The same can't be said for the 527 photos on the panels, six of whom are women.
Edged at the bottom of the third panel is Phillip C. George, who was killed in 2005.
Carson George, Phillip George's father, travels with and helps set up the memorial.
The memorial is already scheduled to be at several Texas events in 2012.
Seeing his son's photo is a constant reminder of the cost of freedom, he said.
His son was killed after being shot by a sniper in the Iraq war, a day he will never forget, he said.
"Time stands still at that point," George said of his son, who was a lance corporal in the Marines. "He will forever be 22 years old."
The memorial usually stands silent as people inch their way through the last fallen soldiers over the past 10 years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
George remembers one particular woman he met when the memorial was at a Houston event.
She stared at the photos and tears began to fall. He asked her if she knew anyone of the fallen soldiers and she said "no."
"I told her, 'you just told me you understand the cost of freedom'," he said.
This impact is what Don Williams wanted.
Williams, the commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 3077 in Victoria, was happy to finally see the memorial at the mall.
"To me, it's very impressive," he said.
The memorial is impressive and makes a strong impact, Lowry agreed.
Sometimes, all it takes is one kind gesture to remember a veteran.
Recently, Lowry and her husband were at H-E-B and when they went back to their car, they found a note that read, "thank you for serving."
The Purple Heart plates on his car was a dead giveaway, but the note still helped brighten his day, she said.
"He's kept it ever since," she said.