El Dorado County Veterans Monument
The El Dorado County Veterans Monument was established in 2006. The Monument is a tribute to veterans, but also to public-private partnership. the County of El Dorado provided the land for the Monument, and veterans led the effort to privately finance the Monument’s design, construction and placement of memorials.
Many veterans were involved in establishing the EDC Veterans Monument. Principal among them was Richard Buchanan – its founder – who served as a United States Marine during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Navy Cross for his valor.
Over 2,000 memorial bricks, stones, benches and plaques have been placed within the grounds of the Veterans Monument. These memorials remember the service and sacrifices of American veterans who have served the cause of freedom from the French and Indian War to current conflicts.
A portion of the cost of each privately purchased memorial brick or stone is donated to fund scholarships for the children of veterans.
Woven into the fabric of the monument are many hidden symbols of past service. Placed in the concrete foundation of the ring along the Walk of Honor is a pound of sand gathered on D-Day from Omaha Beach by a local Army captain who fought there, that day.
Hidden within the concrete Honor Wall, behind the flag poles, are hundreds of unit patches that were worn by El Dorado County veterans during their service to our country. These include patches from all branches of service.
Soil taken from numerous battlefields on which American soldiers shed their blood in defense of the cause of freedom has been sprinkled into the planter directly in front of the Honor Wall.
Any El Dorado County resident may place a vial – of soil from a battlefield or water from an ocean where American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines fought – in the planter in front of the Honor Wall. Just send an email stating who placed it, where it was placed and from what battle it came to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A black granite bench forever remembering those Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA) who did not return from duty, stands alone beneath an ancient oak.
The names of all from El Dorado County who died during the Vietnam War is on a bench dedicated during the Vietnam War’s 50th Commemoration.
The Vietnam War bench stands to the side a bench that memorializes all wars since Vietnam to the present, the wars of the late 20th and 21st centuries. It is a somber note that more campaign ribbons were issued to service members since 1975, than were issued in the first 75 years of the 20th century.
In Section I of the Walk of Honor, a granite stone to President and General of the Armies George Washington stands alone. It will eventually be surrounded by service men and women, as he was when he fought for our nation’s independence. His 40 years of military service to America included the French and Indian War (before independence), the Revolutionary War and the Quasi War with France (The USA’s first war as an independent nation).
At the front of the Monument is a granite plaque that reads, “To Honor Those Who Have Served The Cause of Freedom.” The plaque is polished to a high reflection. Those who stand before it are reflected in its polished surface, as all benefit from the service and sacrifices of those honored on these grounds.
The undulating curve at the bottom of the Honor Wall’s granite plaque is a reflection, as well. It is a reflection of the Sierra Nevada skyline seen in the distance beyond the Monument grounds and recalls the memories of home that veterans reflected upon during their service to our nation.
The Honor Wall includes plaques from famous battles, events, units and persons, including several Medal of Valor recipients. These include El Dorado County’s greatest heroes. Additionally, several benches honor heroes, such as Union Mine High School graduate SSgt Sky Mote, USMC who was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his valor in Afghanistan. A Veterans Monument scholarship is awarded to local high school students who compete in Cross Country, each Memorial Day.
One plaque memorializes the only casualties of World War II to die in El Dorado County. They were the pilot and radioman of a Mitchell B29D bomber that crashed less than a mile away from the Veterans Monument in 1943.
Another plaque remembers an El Dorado County Navy captain who rescued 32,000 Vietnamese refugees in the closing moments of the Vietnam War. At the time the plaque was installed in 2021, over 500,000 Americans had descended from those saved by his heroic actions.
On the north side of the Veterans Monument grows a single Colorado blue spruce. This tree, donated by the Veerkamp family, El Dorado County pioneers, is decorated every Christmas season by the family, so that every person now serving, those who never returned from serving and those whose service continues as veterans, though they may be out of sight are never out of mind during the holidays.