COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Crews spent Friday putting the finishing touches on a Vietnam War Memorial that organizers hope will draw big crowds.
The memorial, a 2000-pound bronze sculpture of a Huey helicopter, will be officially unveiled on Saturday during a dedication ceremony at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station.
The sculpture also features three soldiers jumping from the helicopter into a "hot" landing zone.
Randy House with the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial said the Huey helicopter was a symbol of the Vietnam War.
"Vietnam was a helicopter war," said House. "My two tours in Vietnam, I was never in a real vehicle. I was either in a helicopter flying in one, or riding in one."
It took artist J Payne Lara months to design the sculpture. He says it didn't take long for the project to become more than a job for him.
"We spent probably, for the last four months, anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day," said Lara.
For Lara, seeing the finished product was an emotional experience.
"We created it in four by four sections, so it was in 18 different sections.," said Lara. "As we finished each section, we would take it to the foundry, and they would start the casting process. So I really didn't get to even see it myself until it was completed in bronze."
Organizers hope the memorial will help Veterans Park become a destination hot spot for travelers.
As for House, he said the memorial is a way to say thank you, and to never forget.
"And hopefully, it helps our community to thank Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and their families for their service and their sacrifice during an unpopular war," House said.
The dedication ceremony for the memorial will kick off tomorrow morning at 11 at the Veterans Park and Athletic Complex off Harvey Road. For more information, click on the link added to this story.
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