Wednesday, November 11, 2015 –
UPLAND, Calif. – About 20 Army Reserve Soldiers from the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) participated in a parade and celebration for both the observance of Veterans Day and the unveiling of the city’s new veterans’ monument, Nov. 11.
The Reserve Soldiers volunteered their time to march in the parade, bringing along some of the unit’s military tactical vehicles.
“We want to be highly visible in our backyard community,” said Maj. Richard A. Flores, HHC commander for the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne).
Flores, both a Reserve Soldier and the civilian supervisory staff administrator at the Maj. Norman E. Thrall U.S. Army Reserve center in Upland where the 426th is located, also attended monthly meetings leading up to the veterans’ monument project completion.
“It’s a sense of commitment,” Flores, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, said of his involvement with the monument project.
“We know Soldiers who have not returned from deployment. We know Soldiers who have not returned from a weekend drill. It’s important that we honor their memory and legacy,” he explained.
Also in attendance at the parade, celebration and unveiling were Upland Mayor Ray Musser, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, and State Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena.
“Your service to our country will never be forgotten and will always be appreciated,” Musser said of local veterans and their families during the ceremony. “This monument is not only an honor to those who have served in the U.S. military, it’s an important reminder to all of us of sacrifices made by these unsung heroes.”
The veterans’ monument, now housed in the courtyard of Upland’s civic center, consists of a 26,000-pound, 14-foot-high black granite obelisk and a reflecting wall. The single block of granite has been chiseled into a pentagon shape; each side representing a branch of the U.S. military. Opposite the pentagon is an 80-foot-wide reflecting wall surrounded by recirculating water. The wall bears the names of local veterans; those of past conflicts and those currently serving.
Ken Hargrove, director of fundraising for the Upland veterans’ monument project and a Marine veteran, explained that a permanent site to pay homage to Upland’s veterans was something that has been missing in the city.
“I’ve always felt that we needed it,” Hargrove, who spent 22 months deployed to Vietnam, explained. “For generations to come, local residents can come to reflect upon the sacrifice and commitment.”
He said the concept for the monument was a grassroots one - the city of Upland already displays banners honoring residents currently serving on active duty - but there was no tangible site to honor veterans of previous conflicts, or who had given the ultimate sacrifice.
“The idea came from the community,” he explained.
Chu gave praise to those who conceptualized the monument and made it a reality - in only 10 months.
“On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no service member behind, and we must promise that, when they return home, we leave no veteran behind,” she said.
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