By DAVID MAY
In dedicating 10 reserved parking spaces in Wal-Mart's parking lot for disabled veterans and wounded warriors, one question some had was – why didn't someone think of this sooner?
That was one thought Mineral Wells Mayor Mike Allen, himself a veteran, had following the ceremony Friday morning – Independence Day.
But it is better late than never for others, who hope other Wal-Marts and large retailers, shopping centers and public buildings and facilities across the state and nation will follow the lead of the Mineral Wells Wal-Mart, thought to be the first in the state to designate parking for disabled and wounded veterans who don't qualify for or wish to have handicapped parking privileges.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that should have been done a long time ago," said U.S. Navy veteran (1964-68) Gary Ennis, of Mineral Wells, who attended with other members of local American Legion Post 75's Legion Riders motorcycle organization.
On the possibility that the idea could spread across the state and nation, Ennis said, "I think that would be awesome."
Texas State Guard Command Sgt. Major Hayward Bellah, also serving as first vice commander for local AmVets Post 133, said he hopes the idea will spread "across the continental U.S."
"I would like to challenge all the Wal-Marts with what we have done here," said Bobbie Lathrop, local AmVets post adjutant. "There are so many (veterans) who are wounded and hurt but they don't want to take a handicapped space."
Mayor Allen said while the spaces are marked with signage as designated for disabled veterans and wounded warriors, he said the city will not pass an ordinance to try and enforce compliance. He said everyone will be on the "honor system" and he hopes store patrons will be "respectful" of the signs and spaces.