Former Judge Wants to Move War Memorial Park

While the Montgomery County War Memorial Park was dedicated in 1976 by former President Gerald Ford and then rebuilt in 1987, the park has become one of the community’s best-kept secrets.

Located in downtown Conroe next to the Montgomery County Tax Office, the small park is home to something very special – 166 names of local men killed in action during their military service.

The park honors those from all military branches from World War I to present.

However, for retired U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jimmie Edwards III, the problems with the park don’t stop at visibility and accessibility. Many people, he said, don’t know the memorial exists. Edwards, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam from 1968-69 before losing his legs in a bombing, said those fallen veterans deserve more.

 “I got on this little red cart and went around this square off and on for a couple days and probably talked to 150 people,” Edwards said. “I asked them where the Montgomery County War Memorial Park was located. I had two people guess, and no one else knew where it was.

“There is so much more we can do to honor our veterans.”

Edwards will appear before Montgomery County commissioners Tuesday and request the court decommission the park so it can be relocated to a larger, more visible and accessible location. The court meets at 9:30 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Alan B. Sadler Administration Building.

County Judge Craig Doyal agrees the park is limited and supports the relocation of the memorial to a new location.

“We can make every effort possible to show our veterans the respect and the acknowledgement they deserve,” Doyal said. “I believe the county would be willing to help if it would better serve the veterans and make the park more accessible.

“I certainly would support that.”

Edwards is no stranger to taking charge. After his service to the country, Edwards went on to serve Texas as a state representative during the 1970s before leading Montgomery County as county judge from 1983-87. In fact, it was Edwards that led the effort to rebuild the park in the late 1980s.

“The problem then was it was all grass and you had to step down to get in it,” Edwards recalled regarding where the names of the fallen veterans were displayed. “Everybody thought they were park benches. Everybody would just sit there on top of them.”

At that time, the sitting Commissioners Court members, including Edwards as county judge, all donated $5,000 to rebuild the park and constructed a fountain to bear the names of the fallen military members.

Now, 20 years later, Edwards believes the best thing for the park is to move it, possibly to the Montgomery County Flag Park, where more people can visit and enjoy the memorial.

“We want to decommission the park, just like you do a naval ship,” Edwards said. “There will be a formal ceremony; there will be speakers; and these names will be read and a bell will be run after each name.”

The plaques will be rebuilt in granite since the current ones made of aluminum have faded and many can no longer be read. Edwards stressed the move is not an effort to get rid of the park but to make it better.

“The park, brick by brick, pole by pole and bench by bench, will be moved to a new site,” he said. “We are only limited by what our perception of what this park should be. (We want it to be) a place that people can come to, a place of serenity, peace or reconciliation. It can be a lot of things.”

Edwards said his “loose-knit” group is working to find a new location and even have had many people offer to donate materials and labor to make the new park a reality sooner than later.

“It’s like a military operation,” he said. “We know what our goal is, but we don’t know when we are leaving, don’t know how we are going to get there; but when we do get there, we are gonna win the war.”

The Courier of Montgomery County
by Catherine Domingues
Published January 22, 2017