ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The ‘Fallen Hero Memorial Plaza‘ was approved by the Abilene City Council at their Thursday meeting. The memorial will be constructed outside the Abilene Convention Center, facing North 7th Street. The monument will bear the names and faces of 15 city employees who have given their lives in the line of duty. In addition to six historical ‘billboards’ and two shade structures, the memorial will honor eight police department employees, five fire department employees, one solid waste employee, and one Parks and Recreation employee.

“This is long overdue. I know many of the names that are gonna be on here and their families. I was present at some of the events… And I just want to thank everybody that worked on it,” said Abilene Councilmember Place 2 Lynn Beard.

Elliott family photo of Drew as a child with his father holding him

Local resident Drew Elliott spoke at the Thursday meeting as well. His father, Jeffery Elliott, was an Abilene Parks and Rec Supervisor who lost his life in a tree-cutting accident at Cobb Park 30 years ago. At the time, he was 36, the same age Elliott is now. An aspect he said gives this dedication a much deeper meaning for him.

“It was definitely very surprising and brings up the old memories but a lot of pride. A lot of pride for my father and my family… I can’t wait to bring my daughter here and show it to her,” Elliott said.

Elliott shared that he is happy with the city’s decision to recognize not only the police and fire department personnel but also other employees who may not belong to traditionally dangerous fields like his father. He added that his father’s actions during his time with Parks and Recreation were always commendable, and he put himself in danger to protect the people under his supervision.

Drew’s father, Jeff Elliott

“Heroes don’t always come with badges and flashing lights and all that… You don’t really think of landscapers and gardeners as heroes, but that sounds pretty heroic to me,” said Elliott.

According to Project Architect Tim McClarity, the addition of the two shade structures was crucial to provide a shaded area where people can rest and reflect. He also hopes that the impact of the space will stay with visitors long after they have left.

“This has been one of the most rewarding projects of my life, and I’ve been doing this 40 years. Because I had to learn about each individual… You might say we’ve scattered 15 seeds out there for people to take and do more research,” McClarity told City Council.

The total cost of the project, $419,000, will be covered by the city’s minor improvement fund. Construction is set to begin as soon as possible and is expected to be completed within six months at the earliest.