There were moments during Pflugerville's April 21 Fallen Warrior Memorial groundbreaking, in which many in attendance were choking back swells of emotion.
Patriotic music performed by the Pflugerville High School Panther band flooded the air in Pfluger Park as residents, active and retired service men and women from each branch of the military, boy and girl scouts, families and survivors of Pflugerville's fallen, city officials, news crews and the committee members that made it all happen, filtered into the area next to Gilleland Creek. The event began with a presentation of colors by Boy Scout Troop 408, a resounding performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" by the Panther Band and Pflugerville Girl Scouts PAW leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. A few introductory comments from committee members Mike Marsh and Ron Beyer were made and then Lt. Zachary Iscol, Weapons Company 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, delivered an impassioned keynote speech. Iscol was friends with and served, in the same unit as Sgt. Byron Norwood, the Pflugerville Marine who died last year in Iraq.
"This memorial will have the infantrymen who heeded the call to our nation's service poised side by side in the uniform's of their day-each one carrying on the tradition and standard of the last," Iscol said. "Our nation and the world need such men and women, and I hope this memorial serves as a beacon of service for the young citizens of Pflugerville. This service need not be in the Marine Corps, or the military, but service of some sort to a greater good."
Iscol also spoke of some of his experiences serving with Sgt. Norwood and pointed out that as Pflugerville memorializes it's fallen, careful attention should be paid not to glorify war.
Next, committee members, along with the service men and women and families of the fallen from Pflugerville together took up golden shovels decorated with red, white and blue ribbon and tossed a bit of fresh earth to commemorate the beginning of the project.
Families of the fallen who were in attendance included Clarence Wieland, nephew of Cpl. William Wieland, Waldene Wieruscheske and Herbert Kerlin, niece and nephew of Alfred Kerlin, Robert Fuchs, brother of Kermit Fuchs, Sulema Ramos in from Dallas, sister of Jose Riojas, Francis Gibich of Richland, sister of Edmund Vorwerk, Bill and Janet Norwood, Kristen and David Hullum, Grant, Grayson and Colin Norwood, family of Sgt. Norwood. Also being honored by the memorial are Doug Smith and Raymond Correa.
Before the fundraising event that followed the ceremony, guests and participants socialized, some having met for the first time. Milling about the crowd, one could overhear civilians thanking the servicemen and women, families of the fallen reminiscing about loved ones who will be honored by the memorial and residents expressing regard and approval for the ceremony itself. "I think it's good for the community," Robert Fuchs, brother of fallen warrior Kermit Fuchs, said simply.
Iscol traveled the furthest to take part in the festivities, flying in from Camp Pendleton, Calif.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the memorial [and] the Norwood's have become like the parents of our unit," Iscol said. "Byron would have done the same thing." For more information on Pflugerville's Fallen Warrior Memorial,visit www.fallenwarriormemorial.org.