In 2007, two soldiers from The Woodlands area lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it was decided that "The Way Home" monument would depict PFC Cory Kosters pointing “The Way Home” to CPL Zachary Endsley and be crafted by sculptor Edd Hayes. This monument would then be dedicated as a tribute to them as well as all Veterans of all branches of service who helped to protect our country and its ideals.
The original idea for “The Way Home” came about in 2004 when Margaret Smith, Everett Ison, and other likeminded individuals were considering a Veterans Memorial for The Woodlands. In 2007, Bill Wingo and Everett Ison met at an American Legion meeting and, after talking a while, Everett shared the idea with Bill and they both agreed that it was time to start working on making the monument a reality. They teamed with Tony Motto, Steve Montgomery, and Tim Mulvey to form The Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Way Home is a project under that organization.
To bring this vision to reality required years of fundraising efforts, hundreds of hours of work from dedicated volunteers, and a close working relationship with The Woodlands Township. "We cared enough to put something here that says thank you for your service, and for some, thank you for the ultimate sacrifice", said Bill Wingo.
Alongside the central statue are tiles honoring Veterans by name. There are those still living, those who were prisoners of war or missing in action, and those who were killed in action. It is a place to honor and reflect. In 2013, The Woodlands Township generously donated the land for the project and agreed to take over ownership of the monument - upon completion - to maintain the sculpture and the area surrounding it. Part of that includes Ed Hayes, himself, coming out once a year to tend to the monument which ensures that it remains a shining dedication to those that have served honorably for years to come.
In 2014 Fundraising shifted into high gear and ABC Channel 13 Eyewitness News broadcast this video on the evening news.
Just prior to the dedication, this article was published on Woodlands Online and covers the groundbreaking ceremony for The Way Home Monument, and helped to raise awareness and funds for the project. Work on the Monument was completed in 2015, and dedicated on Memorial Day, Monday May 25, 2015.
The Way Home Project was unveiled on Memorial Day, May 24th 4pm at Town Green Park, Lake Robbins Dr, The Woodlands. Read about it here. You can see additional photos from the dedication in this gallery.
In 2019, The Greater Woodlands Public Art Foundation decided to launch a new fund raising effort to sell the additional 400 tiles remaining on the monument. If you would like to honor a service member with a memorial tile, Buy a Tile / Contribute