High Five: Memorial Statue For Veterans Arrives In Fort Smith

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) - Almost after a decade in the making, a statue honoring veterans across the River Valley is almost complete. The statue will be placed at the Fort Smith National Cemetery as a tribute to all of the veterans who died in combat and to all those still fighting for America's freedom.

"It will be like a guardian angel watching over the cemetery," describes the President of the River Valley Veterans National Cemetery Association Robert Cravens.

For the past seven years, the River Valley Veterans National Cemetery Association has worked to raise the $25,000 it needed to build a memorial in honor of those who have, and who are, serving. "I've teared up more than once since we got it on Friday," said Cravens.

According to Cravens,"It's a big relief that we have something going, pieces are showing up, and the project is moving forward."

The memorial is holding a special place in the hearts of group members who said they just thought the memorial was needed. It's needed for all those who laid down their life for the country, for those who fought, and for those who are continuing the fight even today.

For one member, Robert Castillo, this statue has been a labor of love. This is something he's worked on day in and day out. All so that could honor his oldest son, A.J. who gave the ultimate sacrifice three years ago.

"I made him a promise that I would help finish this project and that's basically how I came involved in it," said Castillo. A promise that will finally be fillfulled as the statue is installed later this year.

Organizers said they're still working to raise about $25,000 to finish paying off the statue. They plan to hold a dedication ceremony to officially unveil it to the public this November.

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