AHWAHNEE — Veterans and all others in the community are invited to celebrate an important new installation at Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park on Flag Day, Wednesday, Jun. 14. Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. for the dedication of a special monument in honor of veterans of all branches of the United States Armed Forces.
The monument is a project nearing completion, developed by local groups including the Marine Corps League Griswald Mt. Detachment #1121 and the VFW, with help from Friends of Ahwahnee Regional Park, local Boy Scouts, and members of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, Grub Gulch 41-49, ECV, otherwise known as the Clampers.
The installation consists of a flag pole with concrete around it, and inside the concrete circle are five additional flag poles, one for each branch of the Armed Forces: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. When the project is finished, all flag poles will be illuminated.
There’s still work to be done before the veterans’ dedication on Flag Day, and organizers are busy clearing the grounds around the memorial and finalizing plans for the event.
The idea began simply enough, says Vivian Capone, with a single pole at the park, proudly carrying the United States flag and a POW flag. In order for a monument to be considered a veterans’ memorial, all five branches must be represented. The Marine Corps League and VFW kicked the idea up a notch and purchased the flags, and ideas for construction began to take shape. Friends of Ahwahnee Regional Park board member Tony Ward was instrumental in helping draw, and re-draw, the design.
Clampers have helped the veterans pour concrete, including an accessible path, along with placing two large granite plaques, says Steve Varner, Clampers’ Historian. One depicts the Battlefield Cross and another details the memorial. Each plaque is erected inside the circle, and synthetic grass will be placed as a final touch. Boy Scout Ryan O’Meara, working on his Eagle Project, gathered friends to help lay cement and fundraised to install park benches at the monument site.
On the day of the dedication, veterans from all five branches of the military will be on site, along with a full Military Color Guard. Col. Gerald Bosworth is the designated master of ceremonies as the flags are raised individually, and members of each service branch are asked to stand and be recognized. On trumpet, Yosemite Jazz Band’s Berl Howard and Clampers’ Steve Varner will play Taps.
“I think this is one of the largest projects of its type in the area and is really significant,” says Varner. “It is going to be a great memorial when completed.”
The flags were given a test run over Memorial Day, and they attracted positive attention, inviting veterans and others to stop in and pay respects, share memories, and contemplate their service, while creating new memories at the beautiful Ahwahnee park.
Organizers, including Marine Corps League member Ralph Capone, ask that visitors to the dedication bring a chair to sit in during the ceremony. Members of the local CHP, Madera County Sheriff’s Department, and Sierra Ambulance will also be present at the event.
For more information contact Ralph Capone at (559) 642-6033.