In the City of Santa Clara, the annual Veterans Day ceremony returned to the Santa Clara Veterans Memorial in Central Park after missing the Memorial Day event earlier this year. Hosted by the Santa Clara Veterans Memorial Committee together with American Legion Posts 419 and 564, the tradition was back to its regular spot. Due to schedule issues, the ceremony was brief but still appreciated by the small crowd that gathered under sunny skies.
Stephen Gustafson, Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee, served as the host. The Cupertino Symphonic Band, led by Jason McChristian, performed patriotic songs, just as they have for the past seven years.
The Santa Clara Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 11, 2002. The idea for the memorial came about thanks to the efforts of Santa Clarans Jim Ash, Ray Gamma and Jim and Marlys Lee. What is at Central Park now, began as an idea for an Avenue of Flags along Kiely Boulevard, with one variation calling for the Avenue to extend to Great America.
Concerned there would be a lack of support, the current design was drawn up and then presented to Larry Wolfe, the former Director of the City’s Parks and Recreations Department. Wolfe’s response was that it would “…be a crown jewel in the (Central) Park.”
With that enthusiastic response, fundraising became the next hurdle for the committee. The first donation of $5,000 came in July 2000 from John McLemore, a retired Army Reserves Lieutenant Colonel and former Council Member (1996 – 2004).
The economic downturn in 2002 hurt corporate donations, although United Defense and Central Computers both made donations. The sale of Memorial Bricks, as well as donations from local organizations including a $35,000 donation from the American Legion Post 564 helped. By 2002, enough funding had been secured to begin building the memorial which is located along the Kiely Boulevard side of Central Park.
The history of Veterans Day dates back to World War I – known at the time as “The Great War.” While the war officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 in Versailles, France, the fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”