A veterans memorial will be unveiled at Fresno City Hall Nov. 8.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
The hill by the flagpoles at Fresno’s City Hall will have a new addition next month to honor local service members who gave their lives in more than a century of American wars.
The new memorial, which received unanimous approval by the Fresno City Council in March, contains the names of all known Fresnans killed in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — 464 in total. According to Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld (District 6), the idea for the project came about after a visit last year by the California Museum’s travelling “Remembering Our Fallen from California” memorial exhibit.
Bredefeld, himself a U.S. Navy veteran who served as a clinical psychologist with the Veterans Affairs hospital in Fresno, started to reflect on the local names in the display — all from recent conflicts.
“And it got me thinking about… recognizing the City of Fresno residents who have fought in wars past and present and recognizing them,” he said. “And so we started to do research — my staff and I — on that, looking into how many people have fought and died and came to realize there are hundreds of people.”
Nicole DeMera, chief of staff for Bredefeld’s office, took part in the research. She said it was critical that no name be left off the list, meaning an exhaustive process of research for both her and her fellow staffer, Daniel Gai.
“We cross-checked and cross-referenced everything we found online, any place that had a list of veterans from any of those wars that had passed from Fresno,” DeMera said. “We had several lists and cross-referenced those.”
After working with local World War II historian Bill Beigell, they were able to confirm that all fallen veterans were named and accounted for.
Their names will be engraved on a black trio of academy granite slabs reaching 220 inches in length and 80 inches at the tallest point. Made by Bell Memorials in Clovis, it came at a cost of more than $80,000, paid for by private donations from Fresno residents.
The unveiling for the new memorial will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 8.