TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Texas Rose Festival kicks off on Thursday, and this year, the festivities will celebrate the City of Tyler. Tapestry of Blessings is the theme, designed to honor events and icons of the city.
Camp Fannin is one of those icons that will be represented. It is a military salute to Camp Fannin and all East Texas veterans who have left their mark on the City of Tyler.
"The veterans are a big part of Tyler history and culture here so a great way to salute our veterans and the community at the same time," said Melody Woodard, dance captain of the Apache Belles. The Apache Belles will perform their tribute at this year's Texas Rose Festival Coronation. Their routine is just one of the threads that will weave together this year's theme.
"Camp Fannin is part of the tapestry of Tyler," said Woodard.
Located on the outskirts of Tyler, the World War II camp trained more than 200,000 American troops. During the war years, there were more soldiers than citizens in Tyler. Today, a memorial marks the site where soldiers left and where many returned home.
"I think people woke up and realized that most of us won't be here much longer," said World War II veteran Perry Smith. He is one of the veterans who will be saluted by the Apache Bells.
The World War II veteran was not trained at Camp Fannin, but, like all veterans, he contributed to the culture of Tyler. Full of war memories, he says the most important story is the one that is passed down from generation to generation. "Don't take our freedom for granted," said Smith. "It's nice to be honored for something you did."
It is a routine that honors the people and place that helped shaped the City of Tyler.
The Texas Rose Festival Coronation will take place this Friday. There will be a matinee presentation at 2 p.m. and an evening presentation at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Cowan Center box office. Ticket prices vary.