WESTLAKE — Ground was broken on the Westlake Veterans Memorial Park and Butterfly Garden here Wednesday at 2901 Westwood Road, on 40 acres of land west of Pinderosa Park and the baseball complex.

The $3 million-plus project is the result of efforts by the City of Westlake, the Westlake Mayor’s Armed Forces Committee, Ward 4 Recreation District 1, and with $100,000 in funding from Phillips 66.

The memorial will feature a flag and statue for each of the five military branches, as well as a granite wall on which veterans’ names will be engraved.

There will also be a 4,800 square feet activities center with on-site parking, and a garden designed to attract Monarch butterflies.

The memorial project was three years in the making. “We came in wanting a $15,000 statue, said Mayor Bob Hardey. “We thought that was a lot because we only had $50 in the checkbook.”

Rodney Hennigan, with the Armed Forces Committee said, in light of the several groups that supported the project, “Anyone who says our country is in trouble, is badly mistaken.”

Lt. Col. Steven M. Clark, the Senior Sustainment Trainer at the Fort Polk Joint Readiness Training Center, said that in his 28 years of military service around the world, veterans have not always been treated well.

“From a veteran to a community, I want to say thank you for what you’re doing for our community in Southwest Louisiana to honor the men and women who have sacrificed overseas and continue to sacrifice today as we do our nation’s bidding.” Clark said. “We do what’s called of us every single day, all around the world. Not for the money and not for the fame. But because of a duty we have, to not only our nation, but to our community and our friends.”

The event concluded with a blessing of the memorial site by Deacon Fred Reed, a Navy veteran, and a groundbreaking.

To purchase space on the granite wall for a veteran, call Westlake City Hall at 337-433-0691.