KING CITY — King City Young Farmers officially dedicated the revamped veterans memorial, Avenue of Honor, inside San Lorenzo Park in King City on Independence Day.
The new location, near the front parking lot and barbecue areas, features stone plaques, flagpoles, dedication benches and a Battle Cross statue.
On July 4, families gathered to pay respect to the fallen and hear speeches from Navy Captain Rich Wiley, Fort Hunter Liggett Garrison Commander Col. Lisa Lamb, Gold Star family member Tony Virrueta, Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez, resident Janet Buttgereit and Young Farmers President Mark Phillips. King City Mayor Mike LeBarre also spoke before presenting the Young Farmers with a proclamation.
The 56 plaques were moved after an earlier design of the Avenue featured plastic name plates, which deteriorated over time and had been placed along the park entryway, meaning bushes overtook them and people passed by into and out of the park without taking a specific moment to observe the names of fallen soldiers.
Lopez explained the corner of the park was chosen because from it, an observer could turn and see the entire park.
“It creates an opportunity for families to sit and reflect,” Lopez said. “When we’re standing here amongst these pedestals that hold the names of those from our community that made the ultimate sacrifice, that’s something we need to do. Because today, so many folks want to tear down history and forget what made us who we are.”
“These Monterey County heroes, and thousands of brothers, should be spoken about often,” Virrueta added. “When we talk about them, they’re never forgotten and they’re never really gone.”
Buttegereit spoke about genealogy and the history of women in military service, as one of the 56 plaques is for a woman.
“Let us all hope that this day and the rededication of the beautiful monument to the veterans killed in action will bring others here to remember their sacrifices,” Buttgereit said. “May we never forget all veterans, men and women, who have served us so well and with such bravery.”
Keynote speaker Wiley, who was raised in Greenfield and graduated from King City High School, reflected on being from the community as well as military service of veterans.
“To talk about the service members that have come before us, we can’t say thank you enough for that,” Wiley said.
The Young Farmers hosted a rib barbecue to coincide with the dedication so that families could gather to eat at the newly reopened San Lorenzo Park after watching the July 4 ceremony.
“The fallen men and woman honored here today were all members of this community,” Lamb said. “When they were called to defend our freedoms, they answered that call with service to our nation and gave the ultimate sacrifice.”