In one way, the Saturday morning formal opening of Crossley Veterans Community in Temple was the end of something. In another way, it was the beginning.
Scores of people, from individual volunteers to representatives of community organizations and firms, met on the lawn of the Community Center, 1252 Honor Lane, for the Welcome Home Ceremony. Ken Cates, executive director of Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, which joined with Keep Temple Beautiful and builder Pat Patterson in spearheading the project, welcomed U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, State Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, Temple Mayor Tim Davis and other guests.
Before the ceremony, everyone toured the newly-completed Community Center, which is complemented by 13 duplexes on Honor Lane.
Joe Stewart, a board member for KTB, said he saw the development of the veterans community from day one.
“It was just a field at that point,” he said. “At first it was a vision and now it’s a reality. It’s so heart-warming as a community project. I would say 80 percent of the nonstructural part of it was done by volunteers.”
The project is complete, except for getting tenants, he said. There are six tenants already, with more in the application process, he said.
Cates said the veterans community was the first of its kind in the U.S.
“I know of at least 12 communities being built nationwide and one in Canada,” he said. Copperas Cove and Killeen want to make it happen in their communities, he said.
Gray said the project has been a long arduous journey but one worth traveling. KTB had been working with Pat Patterson in restoring houses in Temple, she said. When they wanted to do more, Patterson told them about Habitat’s idea of building a veterans community of homes.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that Temple, Texas, doesn’t love their military,” Gray said.
She lauded a long list of organizations that contributed to the project. And, she said, restaurants in Temple and Belton provided lunches for the volunteers.
“We thank the military families that allowed us to do this for them,” she said.
Sonjanette Crossley, the widow of Lee Crossley, for whom the veterans community is named, said she grew up in Temple and loves the city and what it represents.
“What an awesome place,” she said. “We’re happy for the legacy of this community, because it represents us all.”
Mayor Davis said being mayor is the easiest job in Temple, because when someone asks the city for help the answer is always yes.
“Nobody is saying, ‘I did this.’ We did this,” he said. “Our goal is to always get you a yes. If it’s possible and it’s legal and it will help somebody, we’ll get it done.”
In a formal proclamation, Davis said “the freedoms we enjoy as Americans have been purchased with a high price.” He pointed out that Lee Crossley was a veteran, and said “every veteran deserves a welcome home.”
Shine referred to words written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was a U.S. Supreme Court justice in the 1800s and also a Civil War veteran. We should all do our civic duty, Shine quoted him as saying, “so that it makes a difference in the life of others.”
Carter said the people of Temple are exceptional.
“They do unto others as they would have others do for them,” he said.