Assistant News Editor
In remembrance of those who died in foreign wars, the La Verne Veteran’s Memorial, dedicated on May 27, 2013, was recently completed.
The memorial stands on the corner of Wheeler and Bonita avenues and the site was just expanded from a humble boulder to a towering granite obelisk.
“We say to everyone it was built dollar per dollar, (and) it really was,” said Jefferson Hill Sr., a retired member of the Air Force and chairman for the memorial. “We had children give us their piggy banks.”
The original budget for the site was $60,000, but additions to the project and the committee’s desire to use only American made materials and granite forced the price to $230,000.
“We had a lot of support from the community,” Joseph Martinez, a retired Marine and member of the La Verne Veterans Center Post 12034, said.
The memorial displays the names of 32 veterans from World War I to the War in Afghanistan, all of who were residents of La Verne killed in combat.
“We all worked together as a team to honor our veterans and to have something because, for myself and others, particularly those who came back from Vietnam, and there weren’t a lot of pats on the back at that time,” Martinez said.
“It’s a different situation today, where a lot of people are more willing to thank our veterans than they were at that time, and it was a good thing to do.”
The obelisk expanded on prior memorials on the site including the World War II “Honor Roll,” a 7-ton boulder featuring the name of a La Verne residents who died in action.
Before the memorial boulder, an “Honor Roll” was built in 1944 by the La Verne Lions Club, and listed the names of over 300 La Verne residents who had enlisted and served in the military.
The “Freedom Tree,” a green ash planted in 2002, is also a unique memorial on site to honor La Verne veterans.
The green ash was a seedling grown from the ash tree planted near President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s grave in Dennison, Texas.
Also surrounding the obelisk are more than 570 bricks purchased by people in the community to honor family and friends who have served.
“A lot of people who did purchase (the bricks) are residents of La Verne, but they have family members they’d like to recognize and remember,” said David Alvarado, captain of the Band of Brothers and retired Army veteran.
“Come by here, you’ll always see somebody standing or sitting down with their family, and it’s a place for them to see their departed veteran,” he said.
“People will come, and they’ll put flowers on the brick to celebrate a birthday or anniversary,” Hill said.
Bricks can still be purchased from laverneveterans.org.
Amanda Larsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.