GAINESVILLE, TX-Medal of Honor recipients also had an early start Friday morning, breaking ground on a park dedicated to them--a gift from the Gainesville community.
Don Ballard, along with 13 fellow Medal of Honor recipients, broke ground Friday on the new Medal of Honor park at the corner of I-35 and California street in Gainesville.
"It makes me feel proud that the community that's been voted as the most patriotic city in America is honoring us," he said.
"It just was a way to reinforce and give the community another place to be able to recognize and honor the recipients. And this park will have all the recipients that have every received the medal."
Gainesville Chamber of Commerce Director, Lynette Pettigrew said they have been raising funds over the past six months to start building the park. She said, so far, they're three quarters to their goal of half a million dollars.
The park will be about a third of an acre.
"There will be bricks with Medal of Honor recipients names on them and that will be on the path on the walkway and we'll have a nice little water feature," said Pettigrew.
She said by the time they're done with the park, they will have a monument right in the middle that has all the names of the Medal of Honor recipients that have been to Gainesville. That monument will also be topped by a full-sized sculpture of an eagle, clasping all three medals.
"We just feel like that it's something that will give back to the community and it will give the recipients a place that they will know when they come to Gainesville that it's especially just for them," said Pettigrew.
"We're proud to be here and represent the Medal of Honor host city and we understand it's a grassroots operation and it's what Americanism is all about," said Ballard.
Pettigrew said construction is expected to start in four months and the Medal of Honor Park should open next April.