More than 400 people were on hand Nov. 11 for the ribbon cutting and unveiling Saturday of an impressive 15,000-pound granite monument on the corner of Highway 41 and Road 415 in Coarsegold, dedicated to all the service men and women past, present and future.
The idea for the monument came a couple years ago from three members of the Caring Veterans of America, Inc., including CVA Commander Terry Cole.
“We did some fundraising and many individuals and businesses helped turn this dream we had into the realty of this beautiful monument,” Cole said.
The ceremony opened with a flag salute led by Mario Gomes, and the singing of God Bless America by Jolinda Thomas.
Special speakers included Madera County District Attorney David Linn, District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, Lt. Col. David Hall, Theresa Lopez with Madera County Veteran Services, John Scherer, and Richard and Diane Boland. The monument sits on land donated by the Bolands.
A Black polished marble 4-foot tall ‘plinth’ stands in front of two 7-foot-4 tall x 6-foot wide granite displays that feature the seals of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, and a 4-foot x 6-foot-6 piece of granite in the middle with an American flag painted on it.
The inscription on the ‘plinth’ is engraved with the following message: This monument is dedicated to all the service men and women of all armed forces from the past, the present, and the future. It reminds us of our fallen heroes who have died defending our freedom and our country and to let everyone know that they have not been forgotten.
“We’ve got a lot of monuments around, but I think this one is extra special because it represents all branches of the service,” said Wheeler. “They’ve been working on this a long time and I’m grateful that the Bolands decided to donate this corner.”
Linn, a retired Navy Commander, said it was a pleasure to speak to fellow veterans at the event.
“Veterans are very import and make up a large portion of our community,” Linn said. “There are more than 21 million veterans in the US and 2 million in California, the vast majority of whom live in the Central Valley.”
Linn said he has been working a number of years with the Caring Veterans better serve veterans.
“I have been working for a number of years with Caring Veterans of America, who’s headquarters are in Oakhurst.” Linn said. “Along with building monuments, area veterans participate in the Madera County Veterans Court program which was established by myself, along with Judge Dale Blea and Judge Ernest LiCalsi, about two and a half years ago. This program aids veterans who return home from combat with issues which makes it difficult to reenter society. Rather than having them become members of the criminal justice system, we help make valued citizens out of them.”
$15,000 from Lithia Nissan
With its donation of $15,000 to CVA, Lithia Nissan of Fresno funded a good portion of the project’s costs.
“We’re grateful for Lithia Automotive Group’s help in making this dream a reality,” said CVA Commander Terry Cole. “We feel this monument is long overdue recognition of the bravery and sacrifices made by Mountain Area and the Central Valley veterans and their families.”
Many other businesses, organizations and individuals contributed to the project, including Landscaper Don Webber, Yosemite Lumber, Mark Mansfield, owner of Granite Mountain, John Carrington Fence, CVA members Bob and Nathan Bender and Tyler Moore, Fisk’s Tree Service, Hughs Tree Service, cement contractor Mario Gomez, Lee Cement, Scotty Johnson Backhoe, Granite Mountain owner Mark Mansfield, and Tony and Lori of Mclean, owners of Oakhurst Physical Therapy.
Cole also thanked Caring Vets treasurer Bob Bender for the many hours he dedicated to the project.
The rough designs for the monument came from Ray Lambert and Carolyn Williams, with the final design work by Bender and Mark Mansfield, owner of Granite Mountain. Custom color work on the monument was done by Bell Memorials & Granite Works of Clovis. Granite Works Sonny Pineda did the itchings on the monument, and he and company owners Dan and Patricia Bell, attended the ceremonies.
Still to be added to the monument are three flags (America, P.O.W. and California) on flag poles, solar lighting, and a granite bench provide Granite Mountain.
“We are so grateful for the beautiful weather today and the large turnout for today’s ceremonies,” Cole said. “It was special to see so many area veterans and their families at the dedication. The monument turned out fantastic, and the response from everyone who has seen it has been very positive. This is something Coarsegold and the whole Mountain Area can be very proud of.”
NOTE: See more photos at www.sierrastar.com.