It took years to plan and six hours to install but the Brazos Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial has finally found its permanent home outside the Clara B. Mounce Library in Downtown Bryan.
While veterans looked on, Mark Hollas and his crew from Brazos Valley Monument spent six hours installing the 10-foot, 7,000-pound memorial on Tuesday. It stands next to the Bryan Firefighters Memorial Monument and honors Brazos County servicemen who died during the war in Vietnam.
The Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 937 and past president Mike Southerland set out to create a local memorial more than five years ago but recently finished fundraising and approving proofs for the monument's design.
Hollas and his team spent 60 to 90 days working on the monument before erecting it on Tuesday.
"It'll stand for many years to come," Hollas said, crediting the city of Bryan's engineers for making the foundation.
Made out of black granite imported from China, the monument has the names of locals who died in the war sandblasted on the side. So far, 58 names have been etched to the stone, including 29 from Brazos County. To have their names inscribed in the monument, a serviceman had to have connections to the Brazos Valley by being born, raised or buried in the area or have family here.
The four-sided granite column is topped with a bronze statue of a fallen soldier -- boots, dog tags and an inverted rifle holding up a helmet -- as a "tangible reminder of the sacrifices that have been made," said Mike Griffith, former president of the local Vietnam Veterans of America.
The Brazos Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial should not be confused with the Vietnam War Memorial at Veterans Park in College Station. While the memorial in Veterans Park honors all Vietnam veterans, the Downtown Bryan memorial will be specific to local men who died in the war.
The Vietnam Veterans of America will host a dedication and unveiling ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 9, two days before Veterans Day. They expect about 300 family members of the fallen soldiers to attend.
The group raised more than $70,000 for the project, which will cover the cost of the statue as well as maintenance. The funds were raised through online donations, selling pavers to line the plaza outside the library, selling four $5,000-granite benches, a 10-day carnival outside the Bryan Target and a $25,000 donation from the city of Bryan.