LAFAYETTE, Calif. - A long-standing reminder of those who died during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remains on a hillside in Lafayette, and its future is up in the air.
"We all gather here because we refuse to be neutral as our commitment as human beings, as Americans to make sure that sacrifice for peace is not forgotten," U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier of Walnut Creek said at a Memorial Day ceremony at The Crosses of Lafayette.
Roxanne Langevin, a Gold Star Mom, lost her son who served in the U.S. Army. She said this event gives her strength.
"It's days like today we can honor him that helps pick me back up and picks my spirit back up," Langevin said.
Sean Langevin, 23, was killed in Afghanistan November 9, 2007.
The Walnut Creek native left behind a wife and daughter who was born just months after he died.
"I think of him everyday even though it's been since 2007. We're coming up on 16 years. It feels like yesterday," Langevin said.
Jeff Heaton, the creator of the hillside memorial, first put up two dozen crosses at the site in 2003. But he said they were torn down by vandals .
In 2006, Heaton brought back the crosses and eventually their numbers grew to cover the whole hillside.
"I wanted to chronicle the soldiers that died one at a time around the hillside. Little did I realize that we would fill up the hillside with 4,000 crosses with very little room for more," Heaton said.
The future of the memorial has been uncertain for the past few years.
The original owners who supported the project died, and the property is up for sale.
Langevin hoped that eventually a permanent memorial could be part of the site to honor her son and other fallen soldiers.
"He's a hero. He earned two Bronze Stars, one with valor and two Purple Hearts," Langevin said. "I just want everyone to remember him, honor him, and say his name."
The Lafayette Hillside Memorial is a nonprofit that is dedicated to maintaining the crosses. It hopes to work with new ownership and the city of Lafayette to have a portion of the site to be a park dedicated to the lives lost.