Community members gathered Downtown last month for the dedication of the Arlington World War II Memorial.
The bronze and granite memorial, dedicated by the City of Arlington and the Arlington Historical Society, is located in the City Center Plaza between City Hall and the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library.
One monument lists the names of 50 Arlington men who lost their lives on battlefields across Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands between 1941 and 1945. Another 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 and former resident Richard Aghamalian, along with other community members, have been working steadfastly since at least 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.
“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 in part 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.”
Arlington city limits in the 1940s did not extend much beyond the intersection of Main and Center streets, which was the center of public life and the place of important public gatherings, McAlister said.
That, he added, makes City Center Plaza a fitting choice for the public memorial. 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 the place where either they – or their bodies – returned home.
“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.”