“The Price of Liberty” Dedication News


New Capitol monument will depict “The Price of Liberty”

Artists are putting the final touches on a new monument set to be installed on the grounds of the Capitol complex.

Standing 21-feet high, “The Price of Liberty” memorial depicts a version of Lady Liberty pulling a father and husband away to war as his tearful wife holds on and their daughter holds an American flag folded into a triangle, a dreaded gift the nation hands the families and loved ones of those who fall in warfare. The monument honors service members from Texas who have risked and sacrificed their lives since Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the families of those who have served.

In a Dec. 2 dedication ceremony, the bronze memorial will be unveiled at East 12th and San Jacinto streets.

Retired Army Col. James Stryker, the Texas War Memorial Foundation’s board chairman, said by the time the Vietnam Veterans Monument was erected on the grounds of the Capitol in 2014, almost 40 years had passed since he served during the unpopular conflict. By then he had moved on with his life: “I don’t need to go back,” he said.

Coming from that perspective, he says it’s not too soon to honor those who have served since 9/11 and their loved ones, Stryker added.

“This generation of warriors really need an opportunity to know, truly, that we as a state appreciate your sacrifice,” he said.

The monument will join Capitol memorials to veterans and those who died in every American war since the Civil War, with the exception of Union soldiers.

Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015 signed House Concurrent Resolution 70, which gave the State Preservation Board the authority to OK the construction of the memorial. The resolution also mandated that the cost of the monument be covered through private funding. Stryker said the foundation “got a pretty good deal,” spending about $400,000 in donations to make the memorial. Ten percent of that amount will cover the cost for the state to maintain the display.

“While the memorial will serve as a grim and heartbreaking reminder of tragedy and sorrow, my hope is that it will also be met with determination and resolve as we continue to confront the source of this shared global crisis,” Abbott said in a statement to the American-Statesman. “I am proud that as a state we can unite behind the common cause of combating evil in our world, and hope that this memorial allows for solemn remembrance of the lives lost in the war on terror.”

The foundation is still taking donations to cover the cost of travel for Gold Star families, veterans and their families to attend the dedication. Stryker said the foundation plans to make a gift to the state for landscaping at the site and a place to sit.

“That’s the key thing,” he said. “As a soldier. I never knew what the family went through until my wife deployed.”

Stryker’s wife, retired Maj. Gen. Joy Stevens of the Texas Army National Guard, a member of the foundation’s board, said her father was in the Navy during World War II and was at Pearl Harbor when Japanese forces attacked. He never talked about it, she said.

“When I would ask him, he would joke about the beautiful women on the beaches and how he ate pineapple until his teeth turned black — but the joking was a cover for feelings and thoughts that, had he shared them, it may have helped him heal,” she told the Statesman. “It would have also helped me understand as a child a little of what he and my mother lived through. He never did.”

Stevens’ father has since passed away, and her mother doesn’t remember the details of his service. Also, Stevens’ said that history is further lost because she could not find his records. That’s why the Living Memorial, another component associated with the memorial, is important, she added.

“It captures the stories and details of the service members and their families that have served since 9-11,” Stevens said. “It keeps the fallen alive in our memories and demonstrates the price of liberty through the stories. It is for those who have served and understand the sacrifice — and for those who have not served, so they might understand too.”


New memorial on Capitol grounds will honor Texans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan

A soldier, called to serve in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is pulled one way by his duty to his country and another by his duty to his family. 

This burden, felt by 225,000 Texas service members who have been deployed in the ongoing conflict, will be depicted in a new monument to be unveiled Dec. 2 on the south lawn of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission on Capitol grounds.

“The overall story is that the service member is in limbo between heaven and heart. His wife and child are earthbound; he’s got one leg on the ground and one foot lifted, being carried off by an angel,” said Sandra Van Zandt, the artist who created the sculpture.

The bronze, 20-foot tall “Price of Liberty” monument has been in the works since 2015. To personalize the monument, the artist modeled the angel pulling at the soldier after the Lady Liberty statue on the Capitol dome, and labeled the soldier’s uniform “Houston”  as a dedication to the home of the monument’s large funders. The base of the statue will feature dog tags that Van Zandt had families and service members adorn with the name of a soldier or a prayer.

It took two legislative sessions for veterans and Gold Star families — relatives of U.S. military members who died in battle —  to secure the plot on Capitol grounds and raise funds for the sculpture. Terry Burgess, who lost his son Bryan Burgess in Afghanistan, traveled from Fort Worth to Austin to share stories of his son and to push for the monument. He remembered sitting in the offices of lawmakers and sharing tears over stories about Bryan.

“We got to Austin, saw the model and it’s just heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking to a Gold Star parent,” Burgess said. “[The artist] didn’t even have to explain it to me. All of the imagery is exactly what I carry in my heart every day.”

Bryan Burgess, 29, was killed in action in March 2011. He had been awarded a Bronze Star Medal and was a husband and father of an 11-year-old daughter, Makya, and a 9-year-old son, Zander. 

“It was 16 days to the end of the deployment. We held our breath for almost a year. We had been through two other deployments and Bryan always came home,” Elizabeth Burgess, Bryan’s stepmother, tearfully said. “Until he didn’t.”

State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, remembers meeting with some of the Gold Star families as they lobbied for the legislation, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 15, 2015, that cleared the way for the construction of the monument on Capitol grounds.

“Every family loss is unique because it’s different, it strikes at the heart of the family,” Campbell said. “It makes me more aware of the value of what our soldiers do, the price our soldiers pay. This memorial depicts that, ensures their courage and bravery are remembered.”

For Retired Army Colonel James Stryker, a Vietnam veteran, it was the sacrifices of service members and families like the Burgesses that inspired him to spearhead the movement for this memorial. Stryker lobbied for the legislation to secure the Capitol grounds and raised $440,000 to cover the cost of the statue. Major donors included the Houston Automobile Dealers Association and Houston auto dealer Tony Gullo, whose grandson served in Iraq. In partnership with the Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation, a nonprofit, Stryker is still raising funds for the dedication.

Stryker recalled watching a tearful goodbye between a young mother and her child. While the service member got ready to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan, her daughter chased her, grabbed her leg and started screaming. It was this scene that gave him the vision for the monument.

“I thought to myself, “My God, what a great generation of warriors we have today,'” Stryker said. “‘Someone ought to do something for this generation of warriors.’”

Stryker approached Van Zandt after seeing some of her work in Tomball — such as her monument to Thomas Henry Ball, a former U.S. congressman and father of the Houston Ship Channel. Van Zandt has created several other historical and military monuments that stand mostly in Texas and Oklahoma. In Austin, she has a “Freedom is Not Free” sculpture of American Bald Eagles in the lobby of software company Overwatch Systems.

When Stryker envisioned the monument, he wanted to make sure not only to honor the 600 Texas service members who have given their lives, but the sacrifices of their families.

“For 365 days you don’t know what your loved one is doing, you don’t know if they’re OK or not, and you assume the worst,” Stryker said. “I think it’s one of the few monuments that pay tribute to both the sacrifice made by the service members and the families.”

The dedication to families resonated with the Burgesses. Since the loss of their son, they’ve had opportunities to connect with other Gold Star families and hope this monument will facilitate similar networks for others. The Burgesses plan to travel to Austin to witness the monument unveiling.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, chairman of the House Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the monument will be significant not just for the service members and their families, but for all Texans.

“Hopefully, when people come onto the grounds of the Capitol they’ll be able to get a sense of what they go through,” Gutierrez said. “The fact that the conflict is still going on  — hopefully, this monument will activate people to get involved in the process, make their leaders accountable and tell them to get our people home.”

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Texas War Memorial Update – Work on Monument Stops Temporarily

AUSTIN, Texas (Oct 4, 2016) – by Major General (Retired) Joy Stevens

It has been several months since we have provided an update on the Texas War Memorial project – the mission to honor service members from all branches of service, and their families, who served in the Global War on Terror by building and placing “The Price of Liberty” Memorial Statue at the Texas Capitol.  The goal is to dedicate the monument the weekend of September 11, 2017.  We have had to ask the artist to stop work temporarily, which may negatively affect our dedication goal.  We are working to overcome the issues. 

The design concept for the monument was the brainchild of the Texas War Memorial Chair, James Stryker.  He conceived “The Price of Liberty” – a “liberty figure” pulling a service member away from the family.  “What I hoped to portray was the service and sacrifice of both the military member and the family, and to honor both,” Stryker says.  He interviewed several artists and ultimately hired Ms. Van Zandt to sculpt a “draft” maquette; “maquette” is an artistic term for “miniature replica.”  Stryker then invited a committee of family and service members to make recommendations and endorse the design.

A Command Sergeant Major reviewed the service member’s uniform and equipment for proper wear and period appropriateness.  All these changes were incorporated into the final maquette which was shown to nearly every Texas Senator and Representative, along with the specifications for the proposed monument.  The legislation, approving the placement of the monument at the Texas Capitol Complex, was passed nearly unanimously by the Senate and the House and signed into law by the Governor Abbott in June 2015.   

We learned in June 2016, that although we created an actual miniature bronze “maquette” of the proposed monument, with photographs and design specifications, that the design was not “officially approved” – and had to be approved by the State Preservation Board.

The State Preservation Board consists of the

Chair, Governor Greg Abbott (Austin), Co-Vice Chair(s) Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (Houston), Speaker Joe Straus III (San Antonio) and Board Member(s) Representative Charlie L. Geren (Fort Worth), Senator Kelly G. Hancock (North Richland Hills) and Public Member, Iris Moore (Fort Worth).

Since the monument design was not officially approved in the legislative process and the Texas Facilities Commission must had not designated a location, Stryker had to instruct the artist to cease work. She had two of the figures, the child and the woman, in the beginning stages. 

In working with the State, we have determined two things are required to occur for formal approval – the location of the monument must be determined / approved and the design approved, both by the Texas State Preservation Board.

We attended a Texas State Preservation Board Public Hearing on August 30 and spoke to the member designees present.  We were told we would be on the agenda but we were not.  As we were not on the agenda, no formal action could be considered.  We have met twice since with the State Preservation Office, Acting Executive Director Bob Cash and several of his employees and the Texas Facilities Commission, headed up by Executive Director Harvey Hilderbran and several of his key employees. 

Director Hilderbran, in one meeting, helped the Texas War Memorial Board determine a proposed location.  The proposed location is at the southeast corner “behind” the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives Building; basically on the corner of San Jacinto and 12th Streets.  The location must be approved by the Texas State Preservation Board but there seems to be no opposition to the proposed location. 

The Texas State Preservation Office stipulated we make changes to the Liberty figure headdress, wings and gown and wanted to make the monument 1.25 life-size instead of the 1.5 life-size that was intended by the Texas War Memorial Board.  The Texas War Memorial Chair, James Stryker, was hesitant to make changes as he wanted to be true to the committee of family and service members that finalized the design, the donors who Stryker felt “voted with their checkbooks,” the Gold Star and Blue Star families, Veterans, Veteran’s organizations, like the VFW, and the public that have supported the monument.

As the changes were minor, Stryker asked the artist to make the changes stipulated by the Texas State Preservation Office.  In one week, Ms. Van Zandt sculpted another maquette and the State Preservation Office is presenting it to the State Preservation Board.  Stryker is trying to hold firm on the 1.5 life-size as the artist has already begun and there will be additional monetary costs and loss of additional time, if it not approved at 1.5 life-size.  In addition, the location lends itself to a “heroic size” monument and Stryker says, “The service and sacrifice of the nearly 700 Fallen Texans, thousands of wounded warriors, the 225,000 Texas Veterans and nearly one million family members that have borne the burden of the Global War on Terror by deploying time and again in America’s longest war, deserved a ‘heroic size’ monument.”   

If you want to weigh-in on this issue, please contact your representatives or the State Preservation Board.  Ask for two things:

  • The State Preservation Board timely approve the location
  • The State Preservation Board timely approve the design with changes at 1.5 life-size

We are still fundraising for the engineer/architect contractor required by the State and the dedication ceremony; however, the funds to pay for the monument and the endowment to the State of Texas to maintain the monument have been secured.  The contract with Texas Artist, Sandra Van Zandt, was finalized this past summer and she had begun work on the monument, which will take nearly a year to complete. 


Update and Gratitude to the Texas VFW Department, Posts and Auxiliaries

AUSTIN, Texas (May 20, 2016) – As the Chair of the Committee to build the Texas War Memorial that will be placed at the Texas Capitol Complex to honor our warriors and their families that have served since 9/11/2001, I continue to respectfully request your help in two ways.  First, help us raise the very few dollars left to cover the costs of the Monument, required State of Texas Endowment and dedication costs.  Secondly, encourage our great GWOT Veterans and family members to tell their story on our Living Memorial.

This project started out tough, as my Dad, a WWII Navy Veteran who served in the Pacific, taught me to work hard for what you wanted, so it has been a struggle to ask people for their hard-earned money.  Nonetheless, through this project, I reminded myself who the funds were for and have had the distinct pleasure of meeting so many interesting and generous Texans and hearing the stories of why they what to donate.  The other bonus was meeting Veterans and family members and learning about their service and their stories.  God bless our military!

It is with pride that I give you the following update on the project, to sum it up, due to great and generous individuals and organizations like the Texas VFW – “No one does more for Veterans!” – we have been able to accomplish the following in a very short time:

                – Designed the monument and created an Art Bronze replica of the future Monument

               – Secured the required legislation to place it on the Texas Capital Grounds

               – Raised the majority funds to build it; .92 cents of every dollar goes directly to the monument.  There are no paid employees and volunteers pay their own expenses

               – Created an online Living Memorial to chronicle the stories of Texans who served in the Global War on Terror

                – We signed the contract with the Texas Artist,  Sandra Van Zandt, and once the State Preservation Board gives us the “go,” she will begin sculpting the 20-foot tall Monument, which will take about one year.  We hope to dedicated in on the September 11 weekend in 2017

At the VFW State Convention, I had occasion to converse with many of you and even a few of our great heroes from the 9/11 era.  My discussions with the 9/11 era service members, veterans and their families emphasized the reason why we need to timely build the monument.  This generation of warriors has been at war for 15 years and still counting.  This endurance test has been endured but has left scars.

I will never forget the experiences one Veteran told me.  Her husband had been ordered to another OEF/OIF tour, I think it was his fourth or fifth tour.  Like too many others, he was not healed and prepared for another tour and he took his own life.  Subsequently, the wife received orders for an OEF/OIF tour.  Since she was now a single mother, she left her daughter with relatives.  Years later, she discovered the impact of her tour on her young daughter.  Her daughter informed her that every time the doorbell rang, she panicked until she knew it was not a Casualty Team and Chaplain bringing bad news about her mother.  This family clearly reflects the fact that no service member or their family escapes OEF/OIF without some form of change.  There are so many stories like this, of suffering and sacrifice – but I think if you asked the mother-Veteran and the daughter, they are proud of their husband’s/father’s service, and their own service and sacrifice. 

At the VFW Convention our table promoting the monument was near the display of all our Texas Fallen heroes.  I spent several hours reading about these Fallen heroes and reading the comments by friends and families.  I could not help but notice the youthfulness of each of these heroes. Sadly, I could also not help but notice how such a promising future for each of the heroes was cut short by war.  Unquestionably,  a loss to their families but also a great loss to Texas and the nation.  It is the sacrifice of the Fallen, all that have served and of their families that has driven me to continue pushing to make the Monument a timely instrument of gratitude and honor to these great Texans.

I want to thank the VFW Posts, Auxiliaries and individuals for helping me on my journey.  To those who have not as yet had the time to send your donation please do not let this opportunity to say thanks to our Texas warriors and their families slip away. 

Texas VFW Posts have donated $16,770.  To see the Posts, Auxiliaries and individuals go to this link

We invite each of you and plan to make the VFW a large part of the dedication in September 2017 in Austin.  We will let this generation of warriors and their families know we appreciate their service and sacrifice at the dedication of the “Price of Liberty,” in Austin.


Houston auto dealers display replicas of new Texas War Memorial

Some Houston-area auto dealers recently received replicas of a state war memorial that will honor Texas military service members who have served in the War on Terror — the ongoing global conflict that began with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 

The 20-foot-tall memorial sculpture, called “The Price of Liberty,” is scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 11, 2017, at the Texas state capitol. The sculpture features a likeness of the goddess of liberty statue atop the state capitol dome reaching for a soldier who is holding the hands of a woman and child. The arrangement is to symbolize a soldier saying goodbye to his family to go and fight.

The Houston Automobile Dealers Association pledged its support for building the memorial, and its members are donating to the cause. As “platinum-level” donors, Gillman Acura, John Eagle Honda and Gullo dealerships received 24-inch memorial replicas, which are on display at those dealerships.

To read the complete article on – Click Here


VFW Department of Texas Council of Administration and Posts Show their Support for the Texas War Memorial

 AUSTIN, Texas (Jan. 18, 2015) – Shortly after the Texas Mid-Winter Round Up, State Commander Dan West and the Department of Texas Council of Administration approved a donation of
$10,000.00 to support the Texas War Memorial.  Setting a leader’s example, Commander West told the Texas War Memorial Chairman, James Stryker, “Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars is totally committed to seeing this project completed honoring those men and women who have gone into harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan and the families they leave behind.”  The Memorial titled “The Price of Liberty” honors Texas Fallen and all Global War on Terror (GWOT) Veterans and their Families.

Following the Texas Council of Administration’s lead, other VFW Posts have jumped on board to support the Memorial in a big way.  No other military organizations come close to the donations received by the Texas VFW.  The total donated by Texas VFW Posts and Auxiliaries is $5,975.  Posts and Auxiliaries that have shown their support for the Texas War Memorial and the 225,000 Texas Veterans and their Families are Post 1820 – Temple;  Milton Brenner Post 3909 – Rosenberg; Helotes Auxiliary Post 7108 – San Antonio; Floyd E. Breedlove Post 9182 – Katy; Sherman Auxiliary Post 2772 – Sherman; Harlandale Memorial Auxiliary Post 4815 – San Antonio; and Post 3413 – San Marcos.  To see the amounts the Posts and Auxiliaries have donated and for more information on how to donate, go to

It is images of the sacrifice by the GWOT Service Members and their Families that inspired “The Price of Liberty.”  The monument portrays Lady Liberty extracting “The Price of Liberty” by drawing the Service Member away from his wife and child.  The little girl holds a triangular funeral flag, foretelling of the possible outcome and symbolizing the sacrifice.  Military Families face challenges that many non-service families do not face.

In addition to the art bronze memorial for the Texas Capitol, a “Living Memorial” exists, in the form of an online repository to archive and communicate the history of Texans in the Global War on Terror.  The stories are powerful.  If you are interested in reading and listening to the stories, follow this link

Terry-Burgess2Texan Staff Sergeant Bryan Burgess, 82nd Airborne, killed in Afghanistan, was featured in the documentaries, “No Greater Love,”  and  “The Hornet’s Nest.”  Bryan’s father, Terry, posted this story at the Living Memorial

If you served after 9/11 please share your story or encourage someone you know to do so.  It is a way to healing and understanding for those who did not live it.   

Call to Action – Please show your VFW Post and Auxiliary pride and contribute today or help with your personal contributions by mail to Texas War Memorial, 3706 Crawford Street, Austin, TX 78731; or via the website

– Texas War Memorial is a §501 (c)(3) organization and your donations are deductible as provided under IRC §501 (c)(3).

– For more information about the Memorial, to request a presentation at your location, or to request interviews, please contact James Stryker at 832-820-6655 or

Mission- to build and place “The Price of Liberty” Memorial Statue at the Texas Capitol.  The monument will honor service members from all branches of service, and their families, who served in the Global War on Terror, after September 11, 2001.  Legislation requires an endowment for future maintenance and upkeep of the monument.  The project is to be at no cost to Texas taxpayers.


VFW Vietnam Veteran Leads Charge to Build Global War on Terror Monument

 AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 18, 2015) – Since September 11, 2001 and the start of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), 225,000 Texas men and women have chosen to serve in the various Branches of the U.S. military.  As a way to honor these Texans who have served the nation, a Vietnam Veteran is leading the charge to raise funds to construct and dedicate “The Price of Liberty” monument at the Texas Capitol, in Austin.

“The sooner the better, Colonel (Ret) James Stryker,” says.  While attending a national Military Family Conference over six years ago with his military spouse, Stryker, discovered that several states had already established monuments to honor their service members.  To his disappointment, no such memorial existed for Texas service members.

Statue10“I wondered why Texas, one of the largest contributors of military personnel, had not built a monument to honor these volunteers,” said Stryker.  “Although I appreciate the Vietnam Memorial at the Texas Capitol, I do not want the GWOT service members and their families to wait 40 years, to see that Texas appreciates their sacrifices.  Can you imagine a son or daughter of a fallen service member waiting until they were adults to see their mom or dad honored?”

Stryker says the project is well under way but he wants it “sooner rather than later” so that it can be a place for reflection, healing and timely recognition.  The required legislation to allow the monument to be built on the capital grounds was signed by Governor Abbott, this year, on June 10.  The only step now is to pay for it.

Stryker says he witnessed first-hand, many soldiers and their families make the necessary sacrifices to serve in Afghanistan, Iraq or other overseas locations.  A regular face at deployment ceremonies, it is the memories and images of those families that make this monument so important.  “I remember one mother in particular, walking to board the plane, her daughter crying, “Mommy, don’t go!” causing the soldier-mom to cry, but not falter, as she bravely left for Iraq,” said Stryker.

It is from these images that “The Price of Liberty” Memorial was born.  The monument is unique in several ways.  First, it honors not only the service members and veterans, but also persons irrefutably affected by deployments – the families.  These spouses, children, parents and siblings sacrifice and face challenges that many non-service families do not face.  Furthermore, to make the monument distinctly Texan, the artist modeled Lady Liberty in “The Price of Liberty” Monument after the Goddess of Liberty on the Texas Capitol dome.

In addition to the art bronze memorial for the Texas Capitol, a “Living Memorial” has already been established, in the form of an online repository to archive and communicate the history of Texans in the Global War on Terror.  Visitors to the Living Memorial can read real accounts and stories, view photos and videos.  If you served after 9/11, or know someone that did, please encourage them to share their stories, videos and/or photographs at  

The “Price of Liberty Memorial” will honor 225,000 Texans service members and Veterans, and their families, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq after September 11, 2001; nearly 700 Fallen (to date) and approximately 4500 wounded warriors. 

Mission- to build and place “The Price of Liberty” Memorial Statue at the Texas Capitol.   The monument will honor service members from all branches of service, and their families, who served in the Global War on Terror, after September 11, 2001.  Legislation requires that we also provide an endowment for future maintenance and upkeep of the monument.  The project is to be at no cost to Texas taxpayers.

Please help with your personal and/or VFW Post contributions – by donating  to “The Price of Liberty” Memorial.  You can do so by mail at Texas War Memorial, 3706 Crawford Street, Austin, TX 78731; or so via the website

Texas War Memorial is a §501 (c)(3) organization and your donations are deductible as provided under IRC §501 (c)(3).

For more information about the Memorial, to request a presentation at your location, or to request interviews, please contact James Stryker at 832-820-6655 or

Help us recognize this generation’s sacrifice and help them heal NOW!  Do not make them wait 40 years.


‘The Price of Liberty’ memorial for recent Texas vets pushes forward


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lawmakers at the state Capitol are looking to honor those who have served in our most recent war zones. “The Price of Liberty” statue will be funded by private donations and the Preservation Board will be in charge of finding a location on the grounds to house the new monument. The idea passed a Senate committee and it is expected to make it through the entire process this year. By the numbers,Texas paid a heavy price in both Iraq and Afghanistan. When, a site that compiles reports from the Department of Defense, Texas had nearly 800 troops killed and almost 200 wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom, the second-most of any state. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2,800 were killed and more than 400 were wounded, which was again second-most.