UT Tower Shooting survivors creating long-overdue memorial

50 years ago in 1966, Austin attorney Jim Bryce was a student at the University of Texas.
   
The night before Charles Whitman committed his heinous act while perched atop the UT Tower, Bryce and his friend Sandra were discussing the turbulent times of the mid-'60s.

"I said 'Sandra...what if somebody went crazy and just started randomly shooting at people?'  12 hours later it happened," Bryce said.

Bryce was in the Student Union building watching the television coverage.

"That little TV in the Union probably saved a lot of lives.  Because we could keep people in front of that TV...'Don't try to look at it, you can see it here better,'" Bryce said.

Even though he and other students spread the word in the Union not to go outside, Bryce says some didn't listen and were injured by the gunfire.
   
Nearly 50 years later Bryce says he and some of his fellow students affected by the shooting started discussing the possibility of a new memorial for the victims at Turtle Pond.

The current tower shooting memorial is also at Turtle Pond.  It's just a small plaque on a stone that reads "The University of Texas at Austin remembers with profound sorrow the tragedy of August 1, 1966.  This space is dedicated as the Tower Garden, a memorial to those who died, to those who were wounded and to the countless other victims who were immeasurably effected by the tragedy."

The memorial is intended to be a large stone cut from Fredericksburg granite -- with all 16 names etched into it.

"It will contain his mother and his wife's name.  It will not contain the shooter's name," Bryce said.

There will be a bench and 2 Cypress Trees as well.  According to a UT representative, President Fenves is supportive of the project.  The University has been working with Cooke-Walden Funeral Home to finalize the plans. 
   
Bryce says this is all still in the works -- but the plan is to unveil the memorial in a ceremony on August 1, the 50th Anniversary.

"Because it is the most life-changing profound thing in the lives of most of us, it certainly changed my life, it changed the lives of tens, hundreds, thousands of people," Bryce said.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett was also attending UT when the shooting happened.  In a statement, Doggett says: "The memorial is a fitting tribute to both great courage and tremendous pain that was felt across the community on this day, which is unforgettable for all of us who were here.  I personally was on another part of the campus and only by chance happened not to walk in the direction at which Whitman concentrated his fire.  Tragically, mass school shootings have now become all too commonplace with our elected officials failing to take meaningful steps to respond and in Texas only increasing the danger.  There is cruel irony in our state authorizing guns on campus on the very anniversary of this tragedy."

He's referring to the Campus Carry law there which does go into effect on August 1. 
   
As far as the memorial, it's still very much in the planning stages.  If everything works out as planned, both the University and Cook-Walden Funeral Home will pay for the stone.
   
 


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