“The citizens of Houston, entirely through private donations, express here forever their heartfelt gratitude to the police officers killed in the line of duty and for those lives at risk daily—past, present, and future—for the protection of our safety and peace”
-Inscription on the memorial
I’ve driven past the Houston Police Officers Memorial for as long as I can remember, always quickly glancing at the square stones that look like a miniature Aztec pyramid. This past week was the first time I parked and walked down to the memorial and I cannot believe I never took the time to visit this granite masterpiece before.
Set on the edge of the Bayou in Sabine Park next to Memorial Drive, the site is remarkably tranquil for being so close to downtown. The entire Houston skyline is visible from this position, yet as I stood at the memorial I didn’t feel like I was in the city. An on-duty police officer guards the site twenty-four hours a day but besides for him there was no one else in the area when I was there and I was able to explore and climb without being bothered.
The Memorial was created by Jesus Moroles, a sculptor originally from Rockport, Texas. Morales is known for his extraordinarily large sculptures, and this 1991 memorial is his largest single work completed. He was commissioned in order to honor Houston’s police force in the form of a timeless tribute for their dedication and sacrifice for the city of Houston.
The entire work is carved from polished Texas pink granite, combined with patches of grass incorporating nature into the geometrical pattern. The memorial takes the shape of a Greek cross, with five stepped ziggurats, or pyramids. The center pyramid is 12.5 feet high and can be seen from any angle. However, what the street view of the memorial doesn’t show is the four inverted ziggurats surrounding the center. These outer pyramids measure 12 feet below ground, and each pyramid’s base is 40 square feet. The total size of the sculpture is 120 x 120 feet. At the top of the main pyramid is a fountain pool with the engraved names of over eighty officers who have died in the line of duty
I felt very small standing at the top and the very bottom of the work. The peaceful setting created the ideal environment to pay tribute to the men and women in our city who dedicate their lives in order to protect our safety. I will definitely be returning to this beautiful work of art and I encourage everyone to spend some time there as well.
Jesus Moroles was a subject for one of Ellen Orseck’s portraits in her “Made in Texas” series, which can be read about here.