SANTA CLARA — An emotional ceremony at the Santa Clara Cemetery Thursday saw the culmination of a years-long dream as the community gathered to dedicate the new veteran’s monument.
The need for a monument to honor the veterans who either hail from or are currently living in Santa Clara has been felt by city leaders and community members for nearly a decade. Thursday’s ceremony represented the realization of this sentiment.
“This is the culmination of an effort that has taken several years to complete,” Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg said. “It is an exciting day for the community.”
One of the primary reasons it took so long for the monument to come to fruition was finding a suitable space to place the monument, Rosenberg said. Some of the locations that were considered included outdoor space near the Santa Clara Town Hall and space near the Santa Clara Relief Society House, but neither proved to be suitable locations.
Once the City Council agreed that the best place for the monument was at the Santa Clara Cemetery, things moved along much faster, Rosenberg said.
Funding for the monument was largely done through private donations and fundraising efforts, said Santa Clara Councilman Ken Sizemore, who told the crowd that they didn’t want to pay for it using the community’s tax dollars. Approximately $44,000 was donated or raised to purchase the monument, engrave the stones and complete the construction.
Sizemore spent 21 years in the Utah Army National Guard in military intelligence as a linguist and an interrogator, he said. During his time in the military he was deployed overseas in Iraq and retired as a first sergeant. Sizemore’s oldest son is also a veteran, he said. Both of their names appear on the monument.
Sizemore said that it was an exciting day for him to come and see his name and his oldest son’s name on the monument. For Sizemore, the monument is important not only to pay tribute to the veterans but to teach the younger generations about the service veterans gave to their country.
“Our children need a place to come and remember the sacrifices that these veterans made,” Sizemore said.
The dedication ceremony paid special tribute to veterans from Santa Clara who served in World War II. In the days leading up to the dedication, Santa Clara Councilwoman Mary Jo Hafen spent time with each of the WWII veterans and listened to their stories. It was an experience she said was very humbling.
“Their stories are incredible; it’s so humbling,” Hafen said, choking back tears. “I don’t know how they got through it – not knowing if today was their day to die – and they just kept going. It’s amazing to me the patriotism and how much they wanted to serve. I think it’s a real lesson to us today.”
The WWII veterans were presented with special pins made from the wood of sycamore trees that once grew in Santa Clara.
Despite high winds the ceremony drew a large crowd of veterans service groups, civic leaders and community members who came to witness the dedication of the monument.
Rosenberg was pleased with the turnout, he said, adding that after spending his formative years moving around the world because his father was in the military, it felt good to have a community, especially one that wants to honor its veterans.
“Coming to Santa Clara has really become my community,” Rosenberg said. “The support that we got tonight has been really fun to see.”
Notably in attendance were members of the Patriot Guard Riders who created a flag line around the ceremony, members of American Legion Post 90, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter, Santa Clara leaders, Sen. Don Ipson, Rep. Lowry Snow and Elder H. Bruce Stucki, former member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The singing group Tonal Eclipse sang the national anthem.
The Santa Clara Cemetery is located at 1950 Ancestor Way near the intersection of Rachel Drive and Old Highway 91.
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