Houston Heights WWII Memorial | Heartfelt Tribute
The Houston Heights WWII Memorial is truly special. Inscribed into a pylon in the center of a beautifully rendered granite monument are the names of the 224 men from the Houston Heights area who sacrificed their lives during World War II on our behalf. All of the other Houston Heights residents who also served in the armed forces of the United States during those times of WWII have their names inscribed on a semicircle wall around that centerpiece pylon and flagpole.
Alumni from John H. Reagan High School originated the idea of having this WWII Memorial constructed. Today the John H. Reagan High School WWII Memorial Association in conjunction with the Heights Rotary Club maintain this site. What a touching tribute to those who served from what is now referred to as the “Greatest Generation.”
Inscribed onto one of the walls is the following quote from Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC.
“It’s the Soldier
When the country has been in need, it has always been the soldier! It’s the soldier, not the newspaper, who has given us the freedom of the press.
It’s the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It’s the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It’s the soldier, who salutes the flag, and serves under the flag. It’s the soldier whose coffin is draped with the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
And it’s the soldier who is called upon to defend our way of life.”
If one wishes to locate a particular name on this memorial, the nearby Heights Library has an indexed file available.
There is a “Freedom Walk” around the Houston Heights WWII Memorial with 23 upright posts or bollards. The bollards are there to protect the memorial from being accidentally rammed due to a vehicular accident. This memorial is located on the Heights Boulevard esplanade south of East 11th Street. It is right across from what used to function as the Heights Post Office Building. The beautiful Lombard Lamp is located across the street on the esplanade.
The bollards are put to good use in that the top of each one tells a story. If one takes the time to read each inscription, one would come away with much more information about many of the battles which occurred in numerous places during the 2nd world war.
The Invasion of Okinawa information on one of the bollards is pictured above. Below are listed some of the other invasions that are featured on site with the historical dates.
- Invasion of North Africa ~ November 8, 1942
- Invasion of Okinawa ~ April 1, 1945 – June 21, 1945
- Invasion of Sicily ~ July 9-10, 1943
- Invasion of Southern France ~ August 15, 1944
- Invasion of Italy at Salerno ~ September 9, 1943
- Invasion of Anzio & Capture of Rome ~ January 22 – June 4, 1944
- D-Day Invasion of France ~ June 6, 1944
In addition to learning about the Marines landing on Iwo Jima, below is a listing of some of the other battles that one can read about on more of those bollards.
- Battle of the Philippine Sea ~ June 19-20, 1944
- Battle of the Leyte Gulf ~ October 23-26, 1944
- Battle of the Bulge ~ December 16, 1944
- Naval Battle of Midway ~ June 3-6, 1942
- Naval Battle of the Coral Sea ~ May 4-8, 1942
- Marines land on Guadalcanal ~ August 7, 1942
- Aleutian Islands Campaign ~ June 1942 – August 1943
Victory in Europe was obviously a celebrated event because it meant the war in that arena had finally ended. Reading the tops of these 23 bollards gives one a brief history lesson. Other things featured include the following:
- Doolittle’s Raiders Bomb Tokyo ~ April 18, 1942
- Surrender to Japan at Bataan ~ April 9, 1942
- The Pearl Harbor Attack ~ December 7, 1941
- U.S. Drops Atomic Bombs on Japan ~ August 6 & 9, 1945
- War in the Air
- V-J Day ~ September 2, 1945
In addition there is one labeled Medal of Honor. It tells the story of Lt. Raymond L. Knight who was posthumously awarded the highest decoration any serviceman can earn.
The pylon in the center of this WWII memorial is five sided with a ball on top representing our world globe. Names of those who lost their lives are featured here under the headings of U.S. Army, U.S. Army Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. The dedication is inscribed on the fifth side of this monument.
There are other memorials and monuments to our war heroes in the Houston metro area. In Bear Creek Park is the Harris County War Memorial. Everyone from Harris County who has died while serving in our armed forces is represented there. At the Fallen Warriors Memorial in northwest Houston, all those from Texas who had shed their lives while in service to our country are memorialized. Our beautiful Houston National Cemetery is where First Lieutenant Raymond L. Knight (featured above on one of those bollards) is buried with honors. The Vietnam War Memorial in Houston’s Chinatown is a touching tribute.
We owe so much to the brave men and women who choose to put on the uniform of the different branches of our armed services. We must never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice! My dad and my husband’s dad both were in WWII doing their service in Europe. Both are now gone but would have been pleased to see the many different memorials erected in Houston and all across our fine country.
If you live in the Houston area and wish to learn some history of what happened during World War II, be sure to stop by this impressive memorial and plan to spend some time. I highly recommend it!