A Celebration of Resilience in West, Texas

Senator John Cornyn
2013-08-29 13:48:45
THE LONESTAR WEEKLY Senator Cornyn�s E-Newsletter *A Celebration of Resilience in West, Texas* By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn � About 20 miles north of Waco lies a small Texas town with a close-knit population of just under 3,000 residents. These Texans are proud of their predominately Czech heritage and humble beginnings as a farming �community with a profitable railroad depot. Before April 17, 2013, few knew of this quintessential Texas town, but after the infamous explosion of the West Fertilizer Co. plant, the City of West no longer needs an introduction. It has been a little more than four months since that tragic day, when the nation watched the flames throughout the evening and as the sun rose on horrific images of flattened homes and businesses and heard the news of 15 deaths, including many brave first responders who rushed to the scene. Though the television cameras have long since packed up and moved on and the national spotlight is no longer on West, the community remains very much in a state of recovery. �Nonprofit groups and counseling centers are helping individuals process their loss and move forward. Construction crews are working to rebuild homes and businesses. Earlier this month the Kucera family moved into the first fully rebuilt home in West.� In a year marked by tragedy and loss, a bright spot on the horizon is an annual event that brings together the entire community of West to celebrate their Czech heritage and traditions: Westfest. The familiar faces, sounds and smells of this year�s celebration are sure to make it one of the most meaningful in the event�s history.� The Westfest planning committee has been working since October to plan the 38thAnnual Westfest Czech & Polka Festival, which will be hosted as it has been in past years on Labor Day weekend, August 30 � September 1, 2013. Traditionally drawing nearly 20,000 attendees organizers expect more attendees than ever this year. I for one am looking forward to joining visitors from across the state who will be attending to show our support for this resilient community.� The event kicks off with the Friday Night Preview Party, where guests can experience music, dancing, food, and the Miss Westfest Contest. Saturday morning will begin as it always has, with a parade, featuring the newly crowned Miss Westfest, through the streets of downtown West.� This year, the parade will include a poignant tribute, as the first responders who died at the scene of the fertilizer plant explosion will be recognized as honorary marshals. From the time the gates open Saturday morning, festival-goers� senses will be inundated with Czech culture, from the sight of the West High Junior Historian Dancers dancing to Polka music to the taste of the traditional ethnic foods of sausage, strudel, and kolaches. Throughout the weekend, there will be something for everyone, including a horseshoe and washers tournament, tractor pull competition, and kolache-baking contest. During the Opening Ceremony, I will have the privilege of presenting replacement military medals to longtime resident and former West Intermediate School Principal, Robert Fleming. An Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, Mr. Fleming had his seven military medals displayed in his office at the school, but all were lost in the explosion. While Westfest is a celebration of this town�s traditions and heritage, I�m confident this year�s festival will also be a celebration of her future. As Texans we know our neighbors in West are a strong people who will persevere and emerge even stronger, and we will continue to stand with them every step of the way. *Sources: Westfest, Waco Tribune-Herald* News Releases* *August 27: Cornyn Statement on Syria [link 1] August 23: Cornyn Statement on Fort Hood Verdict [link 2] August 22:�Cornyn Announces Start of Selection for United States Senate Youth Program [link 3] August 22: Cornyn Response to Texas Voter ID Lawsuit from Justice Department [link 4] August 20: Cornyn, Cardin Statement on the Passing of Professor Pauline Maier [link 5] August 16:�Cornyn Op-Ed: Obamacare and the Rule of Law [link 6] August 15:�Cornyn: Admin�s Misplaced Priorities Impede Meal Service For Wounded Warriors At Walter Reed [link 7] August 14:�Cornyn Op-Ed: Long Border Entry Wait Times Hurt Our Economy [link 8] August 13:�Cornyn: Make Delays Permanent [link 9] August 12:�U.S. Senator John Cornyn letter: Defund and repeal Obamacare [link 10] � * Social Media* Sen. Cornyn regularly updates his profiles with the latest news and developments from around Texas and Capitol Hill. [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/images/twitter.gif] [link 11]� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/instagram-logo-icon.jpg] [link 12]�� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/images/facebook.gif] [link 13]� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/images/youtube.gif] [link 14]� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Flickr.png] [link 15] Texas Times Column* *August 5: Texas� Very Own Royal Heir [link 16]* *July 25: Experiencing Texas� Natural Beauty [link 17] July 1: A Day to Reflect and Recommit Ourselves to America�s Founding Ideals [link 18] May 24: Honoring the Fallen in Smithville, TX [link 19] April 23: Courage and Grace in West, Texas [link 20] March 18: Honoring Montford Point Marine Calvin Curtis [link 21] February 28: A Moment Bigger Than The Game [link 22] February 20: Texas Treasure Returns to the Alamo [link 23] February 5: Honoring Members of our Greatest Generation [link 24] January 28: Remembering the Crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia [link 25] �* �

A Celebration of Resilience in West, Texas

By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

 

About 20 miles north of Waco lies a small Texas town with a close-knit population of just under 3,000 residents. These Texans are proud of their predominately Czech heritage and humble beginnings as a farming  community with a profitable railroad depot. Before April 17, 2013, few knew of this quintessential Texas town, but after the infamous explosion of the West Fertilizer Co. plant, the City of West no longer needs an introduction.

It has been a little more than four months since that tragic day, when the nation watched the flames throughout the evening and as the sun rose on horrific images of flattened homes and businesses and heard the news of 15 deaths, including many brave first responders who rushed to the scene. Though the television cameras have long since packed up and moved on and the national spotlight is no longer on West, the community remains very much in a state of recovery.  Nonprofit groups and counseling centers are helping individuals process their loss and move forward. Construction crews are working to rebuild homes and businesses. Earlier this month the Kucera family moved into the first fully rebuilt home in West. 

In a year marked by tragedy and loss, a bright spot on the horizon is an annual event that brings together the entire community of West to celebrate their Czech heritage and traditions: Westfest. The familiar faces, sounds and smells of this year�s celebration are sure to make it one of the most meaningful in the event�s history. 

The Westfest planning committee has been working since October to plan the 38thAnnual Westfest Czech & Polka Festival, which will be hosted as it has been in past years on Labor Day weekend, August 30 � September 1, 2013. Traditionally drawing nearly 20,000 attendees organizers expect more attendees than ever this year. I for one am looking forward to joining visitors from across the state who will be attending to show our support for this resilient community. 

The event kicks off with the Friday Night Preview Party, where guests can experience music, dancing, food, and the Miss Westfest Contest. Saturday morning will begin as it always has, with a parade, featuring the newly crowned Miss Westfest, through the streets of downtown West.  This year, the parade will include a poignant tribute, as the first responders who died at the scene of the fertilizer plant explosion will be recognized as honorary marshals.

From the time the gates open Saturday morning, festival-goers� senses will be inundated with Czech culture, from the sight of the West High Junior Historian Dancers dancing to Polka music to the taste of the traditional ethnic foods of sausage, strudel, and kolaches. Throughout the weekend, there will be something for everyone, including a horseshoe and washers tournament, tractor pull competition, and kolache-baking contest.

During the Opening Ceremony, I will have the privilege of presenting replacement military medals to longtime resident and former West Intermediate School Principal, Robert Fleming. An Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, Mr. Fleming had his seven military medals displayed in his office at the school, but all were lost in the explosion.

While Westfest is a celebration of this town�s traditions and heritage, I�m confident this year�s festival will also be a celebration of her future. As Texans we know our neighbors in West are a strong people who will persevere and emerge even stronger, and we will continue to stand with them every step of the way.

Sources: Westfest, Waco Tribune-Herald

Social Media

Sen. Cornyn regularly updates his profiles with the latest news and developments from around Texas and Capitol Hill.

    Youtube Flickr

TEXAS OFFICES WASHINGTON DC OFFICE
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-2934
Fax: 202-228-2856