WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita Falls now has a new plaza and monument to pay tribute to our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day and beyond.

It’s the Veterans Memorial Plaza and Gold Star Families Monument out at Lake Wichita Park. It honors those who lost their lives in battle, something Alicia Castillo, the mother of Specialist Alexis Vicente Maldonado, says she is glad to see.

“I’ve always wanted to do something that would be in his honor, but not only in his honor but the veterans, all the veterans,” Castillo said.

For Castillo, Memorial Day is a somber one for her, as she remembers the life of her son, who tragically lost his life during combat nearly 13 years ago.

“On Memorial Day, it’s not a holiday, it’s not a Happy Memorial Day. We cherish, we don’t celebrate, we don’t have a cookout but we celebrate with our family members,” she added.

Now, thanks to the hard work of this community and the Lake Wichita Revitlization Committee, Castillo’s family and the other Gold Star Families, have a new monument to help honor their lives.

“This has been a collaborative effort by so many people, so much hard work has gone into it but the bottom line is that we want Veterans who are struggling, family members who may be having issues to come out here and feel the love of their community,” Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee Chair David Coleman said.

The dedication ceremony brought out dozens of residents, leaving even representative Ronny Jackson, a veteran himself, in awe.

“Its just wonderful that we can have an event like this and dedicate this to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, for the freedom of our country and didn’t come home and honor their families,” Representative Jackson said.

The monument now sits in the Veterans Memorial Plaza at Lake Wichita, surrounded by bricks that also honor those who lost their lives, fighting for the freedom of ours. A message, everyone involved says we must remember

“We have barbecues we have a day off and everything but just don’t forget that what this day is about is that freedom isn’t free,” Jackson said.

“Its just one more way for us to show the veterans our appreciation and its a wonderful asset for our community,” Coleman said.

“Just walking in and knowing and have that peace and just sitting here that’s what were gonna do now from now on on Memorial Day. This is where were going to come,” Castillo said.

The Veterans Memorial Plaza is located at Lake Wichita Park on Fairway Boulevard.