The Thomas E. Creek VA Medical Center honored 38 U.S. veterans with inscribed bricks during a bricklaying ceremony Friday morning on their Patio of Honor Annex.
“It’s a very emotional, very heartwarming ceremony to see everyone come out and place a brick in memory of their loved one,” said Stephen Larsen, VA executive assistant to the director. “It’s really important for us to be able to honor each other and remember what we did.”
The bricks were purchased throughout the year by veterans, relatives, and veterans’ organizations. Living or deceased, veterans of all four US military branches can be honored at the VA’s Patio of Honor with a personalized, inscribed brick on the consecrated memorial.
“Time changes and sometimes the man upstairs catches up to you,” said Army PFC, Edward E. Owens, retired. “I never thought that I would get this far.”
Several members of the east Texas raised, World War II veteran gathered to watch him be among those honored and able to witness the tribute.
“I hope I don’t have to feed them all,” he said laughing.
The ceremony also served as a christening of the VA’s second Patio of Honor.
“This is a new area that we hope we can fill up quickly,” said Liz Lowery, Amarillo VA associate director. “This is what we want to do so they can be here for perpetuity, so people can come out and visit them — that’s what we encourage people to do.”
The VA uses money from the sale of the bricks to fund the Lodge — an eight bedroom, fully equipped, temporary lodging for out of town veterans seeking care in the Amarillo VA Health Care System. The Amarillo VA established their first Patio of Honor in 1997.
“I feel like I’m standing on holy ground,” Lowery said. “We always need to take time to honor our veterans anytime we can, and have the community involved; it’s an honor to those men (and women) who raised their hand and said, ‘Yes, me, I’ll do it.’”