WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a permanent memorial to the first responders who died in West, Texas, but it’s not actually in West.
The monumental tribute was built by just one man, Don Rogers, who didn’t have a lot of money to spend and received no help from the town or fire departments.
And while not many people have come to see the memorial Rogers said when people need a place to go, it will be there ready for them.
It’s the flags you see first, flying above the bluebonnets. They stick out on a Farm-to-Market-Road near Penelope, 13 miles from West. As you move closer you see it — on a wall under the flags is every name of every first-responder who died in the April 17 explosion.
Rogers started building the memorial on April 18. “The next morning I woke and I says ‘build a wall.’ Something told me just to build a wall.”
Rogers, a Vietnam veteran, already had a wall in the spot that honored service veterans. He said first-responders aren’t that much different to him. They were teachers, farmers, everyday people who stopped their own lives trying to save others.
“They’re fire department people on the side, and they just drop their job, and head off and take care of people,” he said. “Take care of whatever it has to be. I don’t care if it’s your cat in the tree, they’ll come and get it down for you.”
There are benches there for people to sit, even though so far not too many people have. “Not as much as I anticipated.”
But Rogers said he’s going to keep adding to the memorial, improving it. He said he’ll use his own money, because it’s the right thing to do.
“Sure it cost a little bit of money. So. I’ll just blow the money someplace else. Might as well do something good out of it.”
Rogers said he’s already gotten an agreement with a volunteer fire department nearby to maintain the memorial, so even after he’s gone the area will remain and be cared for.
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