Retired Army Colonel, James Stryker, while attending a national Military Family Conference over 6 years ago with his military spouse, discovered that several states had already established or JStrykerwere in the process of establishing monuments to honor service members serving since September 11, 2001.  A Vietnam Veteran, Stryker said, “I wondered why Texas, one of the largest contributors of military personnel had not built a monument to honor the Global War on Terror volunteers.  I did not want these service members and their families to wait 40 years to see that Texas appreciated 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?”

Although retired now, his wife served in the Texas Army National Guard and deployed to Afghanistan.  Throughout  her deployment and later, as she helped others prepare to deploy, Stryker watched soldiers bravely prepare to deploy and learned of their personal stories, of leaving loved ones, indefinitely delaying college careers or leaving promising civilian employment to volunteer and serve in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Stryker became more familiar with the spouses and families of the soldiers and as he attended multiple deployment ceremonies, he could not forget the young mothers and fathers boarding planes with their children’s teddy bears hanging out of their backpacks.  He remembered one mother in particular, walking to board the plane, her daughter crying, “Not again, mommy, don’t go” causing the soldier-mom to cry, but not falter, as she bravely left for Iraq.

Not being able to get the sacrifice of these active duty and reserve patriotic servants, soldiers and families alike, out of his head, Stryker began to envision a statue of a spouse and child reluctantly, yet courageously, saying farewell to a soldier and that soldier being led away by “Lady Liberty,” perhaps never to return.  He teamed up with the Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation, a §501 (c)(3) organization, and hired artist Sandra Van Zandt who made a clay model and with members of the Foundation, put final design touches on the monument.  To make the monument distinctly Texan, Lady Liberty in the monument was modeled after Lady Liberty on top of the Texas Capitol.