This weekend is the dedication of the newest memorial on the State Capitol grounds--the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The bronze statues were finished just a few weeks ago at a foundry in Bastrop. We were there for the final pours along with some others who have a vested interest.
Man has been working with bronze for thousands of years and most of those at the Heart of Texas Foundry hope this bronze will last thousands of years.
It's to remember the 3,417 Texas vets who did not come back from the Vietnam conflict. This final pouring culminates an 11 year dream, and Robert Floyd was there at the beginning.
"Seeing this start off from an artist's drawing on a piece of paper to this magic moment that's now going to be a reality is indescribable. It gets to us," Floyd said.
The memorial will be a 14 foot high sculpture of an infantry patrol. The last molds to be poured with the heated bronze are the sniper and the medic.
"Over the last 3 years we've put in 1,000's of man hours. What you're looking at and clothing is 125% life size. It's accurate for all the equipment, guns, ammo and clothing," said memorial artist Clint Howard.
But people here say beyond the authenticity, the real power of this work will be the feeling and memories it will evoke.
"Seeing it tonight for the first time made me cry, it's a beautiful monument and long overdue to welcome Vietnam vets home and honor Texans who didn't make it back like my father," said Karoni Forrester, whose father died in the war.
Terry Burkett did make it home after three tours. He helped see this project through with the support of 600 donor groups, individuals and foundations. He believes this sentinel of bronze will capture the spirit of Texas' Vietnam veteran's service and sacrifice.
"As a Texas Vietnam veteran which I am I can tell you this monument means everything to me and to my brothers in Vietnam...they feel the same way," Burkett said.
The dedication ceremony is Saturday at 10 a.m. afterwards there will be exhibits, music and food. It will be family friendly.