The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial foundation is a grass roots organization of county citizens representing the communities of Ben Wheeler, Canton, Colfax, Edgewood, Edom, Fruitvale, Grand Saline, Martins Mill, Myrtle Springs, Van, Wills Point and others.
Canton was chosen as the site of the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial plaza. as the county seat of Van Zandt County.
The mission of the memorial is to create and perpetuate a Memorial that honors the sons and daughters of Van Zandt County,Texas who left to fight for freedom and never returned.
The Memorial is a place of beauty and reverence where families and veterans can find peace in the memory of lost loved ones.
The Memorial was established to create in all who see this Veterans Plaza as a monument for the understanding of the magnitude of loss we all share in the name of freedom.
Plans to build the Memorial formed in September 2005 when Ronald “Red” Montgomery, a retired Army National Guard member, approached then – County Judge Rhita Koches with the idea.
In 2006, Koches approached the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot), which agreed to loan 1.5 acres of land at the intersection State Highways 19 and 243 in Canton.
In addition to loaning the property, TxDot agreed to designate the Memorial a beautification project and pledged to pay for half the cost of construction, take care of the ground preparation, and build all of the concrete foundations and walkways.
The original projected cost in 2006 was $300,000; However, the rise in cost of fuel and material supplies pushed the final total cost to approximately $780,000.
The Memorial foundation is committed to constructing and maintaining a Memorial honoring our Van Zandt County military.
The Memorial Plaza was designed by local engineer, Carter W. Clark Jr., who used nature as an overriding theme to develop a concept that invoke respect, honor and reverence for those who died in the service of their country.
Groundbreaking for the Memorial took place in January 2009, and construction began in April 2009.
In November 2016 the Memorial celebrated the unveiling of the 11-foot-tall Bronze, “Never Forgotten Kneeling Soldier.”
The “Kneeling Soldier monument symbolizes the understanding of the magnitude of loss we all share in the name of freedom. The statue is includes engraved granite markers with the names of fallen and missing servicemen and women from Van Zandt County.
U.S. Army specialist and Iraq veteran Juan Herrera from Canton volunteered to be the model for the Kneeling Soldier statue.
Local resident and artist Ed Pickett used photos of Herrera to mold his Granite Statue.
Over the life of the Veterans Memorial Plaza other monuments have been added. A Marine Corp Huey UH-1E helicopter, a large Navy ship Anchor, an Air Force F4-D Jet, a granite marker with three levels of Donor names on one side and on the opposite side is a mural depicting pictures of the five branches of the military. There is a Flag pole donated by the Bob Reese family, an Army 105 MM Howitzer, an Army Deuce and a Half Transport truck and finally in 2012 a 41-foot Coast Guard Boat was added.
In all there are nine monuments dedicated to all branches of the military that adorn the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial.
Recently a Gift Shop and Monument were added to accent the Plaza exhibits.
In the summer of 2019 the Board of Directors approved the motion to purchase the building we were leasing located at 1200 S. Trade Days Blvd. in Canton Texas. A goal to make the initial payment of $175,000 was reached in the Spring of 2020. The building was purchased thru a loan with American National Bank of Texas. The purchase allowed the County Veteran Service Officer (CVSO), Harry Fontenot, to move his offices to our building. The veterans and the citizens of Van Zandt County now had a permanent home for our Memorial, Gift Shop and Museum.
Yet for the Memorial to achieve these goals, generous donations from individuals and organizations are needed. Fundraising is an ongoing effort. From constructing the Memorial, to maintaining a perpetual care fund, the Foundation will ensure that the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial will last for many generations to come.
Please consider making a tax-exempt donation to this project honoring our American military! Donations can be sent to:
Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial
1200 S. Trade Days Blvd, Suite 600
Canton, TX 75103
Tel: (903) 567-0657
Memorial Board meetings are on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 12pm noon. All meetings are open to the public.
Founded in 2005, VZCM, Inc. (DBA Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. EIN 20-8963395, approved February 18, 2009.