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The Kern Veterans Memorial

5/2/2011

 

The Kern Veterans Memorial
From Beginning to End
By
Avie Spencer
 

It all began in 2003 with the creation of the “Kern Veterans Memorial Foundation” as a 501-C3 organization with the initial goal and primary mission to honor the patriotic service of all military veterans from the County of Kern.

The Foundation envisioned the construction of a Memorial that would celebrate the service and sacrifices by local veterans in all branches of the U. S. Armed Forces, those living, those dead, those yet to serve, and those killed in the line of duty who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and in Afghanistan. 

The Memorial’s unique design was based on the concept of a labyrinth that represents a journey to our inner center and back again into the world. Inherent to this design is the creation of a sacred place for contemplation, meditation, and reflection, leading toward ever deeper understanding. The path around the memorial was to consist of an outer ring that is level and continuous from which one begins this journey. At the Memorial’s center was to be another level place containing a dramatic sculpture. 

We, in KernCounty, are truly blessed to have in every generation heroic men and women willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. These brave members of our military are sometimes asked to lay down their own lives for the freedoms their fellow countrymen enjoy today.

On November 11, 2007, in a drenching rainstorm, the Kern Veterans Memorial Foundation unveiled the MemorialPlaza, an exquisitely meaningful monument that instantly became a pont of great patriotic pride to all of KernCounty. The Memorial is a truly fitting tribute to all those individuals who have fought, are fighting, and will fight to preserve our liberty. 

In the long term, the Kern County Veterans’ Memorial will serve as a lasting monument to educate and inspire our children, families, and community about the sacrifices made to preserve, protect, and promote freedom for all future generations. The memorial be a special place of healing for those who have lost loved ones in freedom’s noble cause.

Our Monument’s award- winning ecliptic design is truly among the nation’s finest, incorporating both traditional and modern materials with state-of-the-art technology.

However, as the Memorial stands today it is not complete. That’s why the Foundation has embarked on a fundraising campaign to complete Phase II of the Memorial, which includes The Wall of Valor and the interactive educational Kiosk. Phase II represents the completion of the completion of the Memorial, specifically in honor of the roughly 1,000 KernCounty men and one woman killed in combat. .

The Wall of Valor will consist of 8 glass panels listing the names of those KernCounty citizens Killed in Action (KIA) and Missing in Action (MIA). We have made our final selections for the glass type, color, thickness, etching, stone bases, and stainless steel columns.

It has now been roughly 10 years since the Foundation’s vision began. On May 28th, 2011, at 10:00 AM, Phase II---The Wall of Valor and Kiosk--- will be unveiled at the MemorialPlaza, with special speakers, patriotic bands, and celebration activities surrounding the grand event.

Special recognition in this project goes to the continuous work done by BakersfieldHigh School history teacher Ken Hooper and his senior archive class in compiling and verifying the  KIAs and MIAs of Kern County.  When we started the project, it was believed there were only 449 Kia and MIA from KernCounty.   Four years of extraordinary research by Ken Hooper and his archive class that brought the total number of names to roughly 1,000---names that would have been forever lost in the mists of history were it not for this research.   What an incredible gift to all the people of KernCounty to have the names of all our fallen heroes.

Finally, because of the Memorial’s patriotic importance, significant upgrades are planned for the walls and roof of the Kiosk to better suit the Memorial’s architecture. The Kiosk’s center section, for example, will be finished with the same smooth granite used at the Monument itself. Two smaller sections of the Kiosk will be finished with the same rough textured granite used on the walkway. The roof of the Kiosk will be polished stainless steel. The huge bronze plaque honoring major donors will be mounted on the wall of the Kiosk facing S Street.

When completed, the Kern Veteran’s Memorial will be one of the most beautiful monuments in the United States honoring the men and women who have graciously served our nation. In addition to the name registration of our fallen heroes, the Foundation will add actual stories about our heroes on our website. These stories will reach fromWorld War I to current conflicts, thus providing our both present and future citizens with a living history of the service and sacrifices made by our neighbors in defense of our freedom. Again, these stories are thanks to the work Ken Hooper and his students at BakersfieldHigh School.

From first to last, the KernVeteransMemorialPlaza has truly been a county-wide effort, involving young and old from every city, town, school, ranch, farm, and crossroads in KernCounty. A salute to one and all, and an invitation to everyone to be part of the May 28th grand event.

Please visit WWW.kernvets.org for additional information or learn how to sponsor a fallen hero with a $300 donation.  

 
Donations should be made payable to:
 
Kern Veterans Memorial Foundation
P.O. Box 11325
Bakersfield, California  93389

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