Seven years in the making, a new memorial will be unveiled in Los Gatos that not only honors veterans, but first responders-and 9/11 heroes. The memorial is located at the Los Gatos Civic Center on East Main Street. A dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday. It’s not just any memorial but those behind it call it a world-class tribute.
Located on the front lawn of Los Gatos’s civic center, Vietnam War Veteran Mike Frangadakis is in awe of an idea he had but never thought would happen.
“I look at it I did not realize it was going to be so beautiful,” said Frangadakis. “We are saying that our memorial is the crown jewel of Santa Clara County.”
It was seven and half years ago, Frangadakis noted Los Gatos was one of the few municipalities in Santa Clara County, with no tribute to veterans. Through the Veterans Memorial and Support Foundation of Los Gatos, $1.5 million in fundraising, a memorial now stands paying honor, gratitude and respect.
“I think about all those who didn't come home and all of those who did come home,” said Frangadakis.
The ornate centerpiece is a glass sculpture of the statue of liberty's flame sitting in water. Renderings show inside the soldier's cross with a rifle, helmet and boots, a tribute to those killed in action.
“It ties in our country with our military sacrifice that's what we are trying to depict here,” said Frangadakis.
The memorial also recognizes first responders with a historic fire bell and 9/11 heroes, Los Gatos residents Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer who lost their lives on Flight 93.
“A lot of people I don't think have put together the dots to see how heroic their actions were,” said Ellen Manzo of the Veterans Memorial and Support Foundation of Los Gatos.
The Walls of Liberty honors the six branches of government-
“People do care that's what this is all about,” said George Hall of Los Gatos.
Hall has a paver to remember his family members who have served. His cousin's son was killed in Iraq. George’s own son is an Army ranger and after five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan is coming home.
“In my view they are all heroes,” said Hall.
For veterans and their families, the magic of the memorial, it’s a place of healing for those with invisible wounds/
“We’ve seen it now three, four times veterans will go to a memorial and can come back and respark their lives,” said Hall. “It truly is a healing experience for a lot of these men and women.”
A dedication ceremony is set for Saturday morning with local and state dignitaries. The foundation hopes to raise even more money to help veterans long-term.