MANSFIELD, Texas - When Joaquin Cortez created a sand sculpture memorial in front of a Mansfield store, he wanted to honor the officers killed in the July 7 attack. Unfortunately, the elements took their toll on the sculpture.
So for Memorial Day, Cortez is creating a new sculpture to honoring all veterans.
Cortez says he was always the kid drawing faces in the mud with a spoon. His artistic talent with sand sculpture has touched the heart of police officers since last summer. And with his new one seeks to do the same with veterans.
With just sand and water, Cortez is crafting what he hopes will be an inspiration to military families on Memorial Day.
"This will be the Marine logo. The Navy logo will go on the side here,” the sculptor explained as he showed his plans for the design. “The Air Force logo is going to be on the other side. And I'm working on the Army logo here now."
The new sand sculpture will replace the one Cortez created last summer just weeks after five police officers were murdered in Downtown Dallas.
"A lot of the Dallas police officers are soldiers, and they come up here and are sad to see the police memorial destroyed by the rain, but happy to see the new one being built and being part of the military,” Cortez said.
The majestic eagle that adorned the first sculpture was patched up and remains the focal point of the new sculpture.
"He's wearing the Medal of Honor, so maybe he's like a spirit of a soldier that has passed,” Cortez said.
The new sculpture is in the same location on Broad Street in front of Ray's Pharmacy in Mansfield.
"Every body's partial to one service over the other,” said Ray’s Pharmacy owner Danny Ray. “But we're going to try and serve everybody on this one."
Military veteran Clint Littleton and his co-worker noticed the sculpture as they drove by.
“I served in two different wars, so I understand that. I mean I was at the tail end of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hoorah!” he said. “We pulled over. We were on our way home from work and it was good enough to stop, so we appreciate that."
And for those who felt a strong connection to the original police memorial, Cortez says it's literally the heart and soul of the new one.
"The Shield is inside the sculpture still,” he explained. “So it still says police inside the sculpture."