January-February 2006 Year 12, Number 1.
What Next For Veterans Historical Plaza?
By LAURENE WESTE
Mayor Of Newhall
And Neighboring Communities.
Even in a city as young as Santa Clarita, it is important to maintain a connection to the past. The sense of history in Santa Clarita is strong, and links to the past are cherished.
It is equally important, however, for a young city to look ahead to future generations.
On May 28, the city of Santa Clarita established a place steeped in history. On this day, the city held the grand opening of the Veterans Historical Plaza at the "triangle" formed by Newhall Avenue, Market and Walnut streets in Old Town Newhall.
Hundreds of members of the community came out to help the city dedicate the space to our nation's fine veterans. Following an impressive military flyover by a T-38 supersonic trainer, a procession was held, featuring the Knights of Columbus, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, the American Legion Color Guard, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Posse, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 355-Lost Patrol, and active members of each branch of the United States Armed Forces. Representatives from community organizations and the military, as well as from local, state and federal government agencies also witnessed the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon.
The plaza was greeted with enthusiasm by Santa Clarita residents and now stands as a beautiful tribute to our veterans. The construction and landscaping have been completed; however, the city is nowhere near finished with the site.
The city has established a place for remembrance and reflection. But what's next for the Veterans Historical Plaza?
Let us take a look ahead into the future.
The city has been busy collecting donations for the installation of several pieces of military art at the plaza. To date, donations have been collected for a war dog memorial, decorative urn planters, park benches, and a memorial plaque to the late Air Force pilot "Pete" Knight, whose record speed in a fixed-wing aircraft (4,520 mph) still stands. Knight represented our valley in the State Senate when he died in May 2004.
The city is now preparing to install the first art piece, depicting famed Civil War drummer boy Willy Johnson. At a cost of $50,000, the artwork attempts to capture the brave, young spirit of the drummer boy.
Generous donations from the community provided all funding for the project. The piece will be cast in bronze, and is but the first in a series of sculptures the city intends to add in the future.
Soon to be added to the plaza, as well, are several "story stations" in honor of the various United States military conflicts. The stations are designed to educate children and youth about American history and the service of our veterans. Funding for these story stations also is being generously donated by members of our community.
The city is still collecting donations for the various pieces to be included in the plaza. Anyone interested in donating can contact the Historical Veterans Memorial Committee at 661/251-7870.
In addition to making monetary donations, residents also have the opportunity to purchase commemorative bricks to be placed in the plaza walkway. The bricks can be engraved with up to three lines of text.
Families and friends are encouraged to purchase bricks in honor of their loved ones. Visitors to the plaza can then come read the names of the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces, and see the messages left for them by their fellow members of the community.
In addition to beautiful commemorative art and brickwork, the city of Santa Clarita also will continue to utilize the Veterans Historical Plaza for patriotic community events.
On Veterans Day 2005, the plaza served as the backdrop for a touching ceremony by the Blue Star Mothers organization. In December it hosted a patriotic holiday celebration featuring local high school choirs. Visitors participated in a special holiday card signing for our troops overseas.
The city anticipates using the plaza to host similar events in the future, including memorial services, flag ceremonies and patriotic holiday celebrations.
The Veterans Historical Plaza was one of the first facets of the city's Downtown Newhall Specific Plan to be completed.
The half-acre project broke ground in November 2004 and was ready in less than a year. It was designed to be a place of serene reflection and remembrance for individual contemplation and group gatherings dedicated to the service and sacrifice of veterans.
The plaza now serves as a proud monument to members of our community who deserve the utmost respect.
The city invites everyone to come to the Veterans Historical Plaza and take in the beautiful and moving tribute to our nation's veterans. In this serene park, one can feel the deep sense of history and be assured that the city is working to preserve these memories for future generations.
©2006, Old Town Newhall USA. All rights reserved.