The City of Arlington and the Arlington Historical Society dedicated a bronze and granite World War II memorial in the City Center Plaza Saturday.
One monument lists the names of 50 Arlington men who lost their lives on battlefields across Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Pacific between 1941 and 1945. A second monument outlines the contributions of more than 5,000 students, alumni and faculty members of North Texas Agricultural College, now the University of Texas at Arlington, who answered the nation's call to arms during the war.
"We can never repay what these 50 young men did for their country for us," said Arlington resident Clete McAlister, who served as emcee in Saturday's dedication. "As Ronald Reagan said, 'All we can do is remember.' The important role of NTAC (UTA) during the war also must be remembered."
Arlington Historical Society member Wanda Marshall, former resident Richard Aghamalian and other community members, have been working since 2005 to make the public memorial a reality. The two new monuments, created by Worthington Monuments, surround artist Paul Tadlock's statue of Col. Neel Kearby, the only World War II Medal of Honor recipient from Arlington.
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"It is my hope that monuments such as these be a constant reminder of the toll a war inflicts on humanity," said Geraldine Mills, Arlington Historical Society executive director.
The memorial was paid by a $16,500 grant from the City's Historic Preservation Fund. Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams issued a proclamation at the event, saying the monuments "represent a long overdue and heartfelt tribute to our World War II generation and their priceless gift of freedom."
"For more than 60 years, no one other than the families and friends of these young men knew of their enormous sacrifice for our country for us," McAlister said. "These physical objects remind us that their lives, although shortened, were important and should be remembered."
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McAlister believes that the City Center Plaza is a fitting choice for the public memorial because the plaza is in sight of the city's former train station depot, the place where most of Arlington's men left for war and also where they either them or their body returned home.