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Veterans, first responders honored with lake's name

Victoria Advocate - 5/2/2017

May 02--Effective July 4, Saxet Lake Park will officially be known as Patriot Lake Park, county commissioners decided Monday.

"This community really does recognize veterans," said Sarah Holland, peer support specialist at Crossroads Area Veterans Center. "You don't see that everywhere."

Holland, who is also a U.S. Navy veteran, debuted the freshly designed Patriot Park logo to county commissioners at their public meeting. Although the Commissioners Court approved the decision unanimously, Crossroads veterans and staff at the Crossroads Area Veterans Center chose the name. Since at least the '80s, Victoria residents have referred to the submerged quarries that lie west of city limits as Saxet Lake or Ski Lake. Saxet is Texas spelled backward.

Welcoming veterans back into civilian life with gestures of thanks, she said, is about more than simple courtesy. It's also about helping veterans process difficult memories and reintegrate with the communities they have fought for, she said.

"If they are not brought home to a welcome reception or made to feel they have a place to come home to, I think you could see a lot of what happened with Vietnam War veterans," she said. "They were just left out there."

Precinct 3 County Commissioner Gary Burns said the county is planning a July 4 event to honor veterans and first responders while also officially commemorating the name change.

"We're going to have everything from a cook-off to possibly a band," Burns said.

The name change is merely the most recent show of support by commissioners for the Crossroads Area Veterans Center, Holland said.

"People are starting to recognize what we are doing," she said.

In November 2015, the Crossroads Area Veterans Center opened an office in the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center.

"Now, we have a place where people can come in and feel warm and welcome," she said.

Although county commissioners unanimously approved the name change, one Victoria resident raised concerns about connotations of the word "patriot."

"Patriot is a word that has really good dictionary connotations, but it kind of has been usurped by groups who like to build compounds out in the middle of nowhere and ... take over the government," said Eileen Stewart. "It kind of connotes anarchists."

Stewart, who said she supports veterans, asked the court to consider a few other options such as "Veteran Lake," "America Lake" and "Texas Lake."

But Burns defended the choice.

"Maybe we can change that perception," he said.

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(c)2017 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas)

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