There could be little doubt that Santa Clarita Valley residents support a Fallen Warriors Monument in Veterans Historical Plaza.
It’s been about two years now since Vietnam veteran Bill Reynolds with the Santa Clarita Valley Veterans Memorial, Inc.turned up in The Signal’s former newsroom in Valencia to search for stories of World War II or Korean war, accounts of Santa Clarita Valley residents killed during those conflicts.
Reynolds figured that if they died in war, their deaths would be recorded and their lives honored. He was right.
Stories of fighting Santa Clarita Valley servicemen from Kuwait and Afghanistan and Iraq joined those from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, Korea’s Chosen Reservoir and the fields of Germany and France as the numbers of soldiers who sacrificed all numbered into the past of Signal pages within the dusty, sometimes crumbling Signal archives.
Early on, the goal was not just to collect names but to memorialize them in granite. Reynolds found 47 Santa Clarita Valley residents who died during conflicts defending their nation.
But the impediments to a memorial have been numerous and peculiar.
Certain city officials said the park was just fine the way it was and didn’t need any enhancements. A strange reason to object when the question is honoring war dead.
But community support was even stronger than objections.
A civic engagement group at College of the Canyons became involved and sent heartfelt letters to the editor urging the council to support the monument. Fundraising went swimmingly; 71 days after he launched it Reynolds had $50,000 collected.
The most common citizens’ response during the monument drive has been “That’s a no brainer,” Reynolds said. Still, he has been sure to satisfy every request by the city to fulfill every task supporting the monument.
Charlie Rasmussen offered construction labor and lots of moral support; Paul Biere volunteered to line up concrete. Reynolds has also pursued a site planner, other construction equipment through Home Depot, signed on volunteer Jim Coffey of Core Electric, and this week he is in pursuit of a welder and inspector.
The latest obstacle tossed out by the city is the lack of available World War I names for Killed in Action. Since The Signal was started the year after World War I was over, names of World War I war dead are not available there – or apparently anywhere else. Congressman Steve Knight’s office also was unable to locate names specific to geographic areas among the federal archives of WWI killed in action.
Reynolds plans a panel on the monument extending recognition and gratitude to those who lost their lives during The Great War – and all those since then.
A dedication ceremony is scheduled Nov. 8.
“The intent is to honor all known and unknown Santa Clarita Valley residents who perished in war since World War I,” Reynolds said.
We commend Bill and the Santa Clarita Valley Veterans Memorial Inc. for the work they’ve done tirelessly on this community project. We hope to celebrate with them Nov. 8 as the Fallen Warriors Monument is dedicated during its third year.