Veterans Commission hears plans for war memorial unveiling

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A monument bearing the names of Martinez residents who have died in the nation’s military conflicts will be unveiled June 16 at Veterans Park, the small triangular space where Alhambra Avenue and Berrellesa Street merge.

Richard Cheney, who has been working on the memorial monument for more than a year, described to the Veterans Commission Tuesday the ceremony he is planning for the event.

By last year, Cheney had gathered the bulk of the names that are being carved into stone. Those he had researched himself, using the U.S. Census, newspaper articles and websites to discover who was living in Martinez at the time they died in war.

He then turned to the public, and learned that his research hadn’t provided him the names of all the fallen. He added those to his list, too.

He’ll describe the monument’s history during the 10 a.m. June 16 ceremony. And among the witnesses will be some of those related to the deceased heroes.

Shane Bower, chairperson of the Veterans Commission, agreed Tuesday to handle the emcee duties of giving a welcome and introducing special guests.

Besides the survivors, elected officials will be invited to the public occasion, Cheney said.

Vicar Andrew Mundinger, who also is a veteran, will give the invocation, and singers will lead an a capella rendition of the national anthem.

After the pledge to the flag, Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder and a representative from Supervisor Federal Glover’s office will speak, and other officials will be introduced.

Cheney, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1351 will describe how the VFW and American Legion collaborated to pay for the monument, and how he sought to get the memorial made.

District 10 Commander will explain how the organization honors both surviving veterans and the fallen, and Carolyn Black, president of the VFW Auxiliary, will speak about the families of those whose names are on the monument.

Each of the names will be read, along with the war in which each fought, and a bell donated by Martinez Harbormaster Olivia Ortega will be rung after each name. After the ceremony, that bell will be installed at the Martinez Veterans Building.

Once the names are read, family members of the fallen will help remove the cover that, until then, had concealed the monument. Representatives of Main Street Martinez and Shell Martinez Refinery will place wreaths, after which Mundinger will give a benediction.

An honor guard will fire a 21-gun salute, and a bugler will play “Taps.” Bower will make closing statements, after which those attending the ceremony will be welcomed to Martinez City Hall, where refreshments will be served.

“It’s a gift to the city from the VFW and the American Legion,” Cheney said. He said he’s gotten positive responses from family members of those whose names will be on the monument.

Art Monument is making the memorial piece, and Cheney said not only are things on schedule, the company may be a little ahead of deadline.

He said he hopes other cities will follow Martinez’s example and create memorials to all of their war dead, from any conflict.

“It will be a great ceremony for us,” he said.

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