“Our veterans…must not be forgotten. Their service, their sacrifice, their courage must be etched in America’s memory…and remembered…as the price they paid to pass on to us…the legacy of freedom and glory that is America.”
— Governor Pete Wilson, 1998
These words from Governor Pete Wilson’s address at the dedication of the California Veterans Memorial in December 1998 express the intent of the monument. It is a moving remembrance of the more than five million Californians who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since statehood in 1850.
The memorial is located in a quiet area of the park surrounded by a grove of mature trees. An arc of flags represents the various branches of the U.S. military and borders a 30-foot black granite obelisk.
The California Veterans Memorial pairs the ancient obelisk shape with modern techniques. Images of war taken from photographs are etched into the granite structure. The images range from soldiers wounded in combat to a wife and child welcoming a serviceman home. Narrow fissures slice through each of the obelisk’s four panels, symbolizing the devastation of war.
The effect inspires awe and patriotic reflection. The hardships endured by California veterans and the sacrifices they have made and continue to make are evident. In erecting and visiting the monument, Californians show their gratitude.