For information about the Veterans Memorial Wall, call 478-1612.
At Grass Valley’s Memorial Park, monuments stand in honor of local patriots lost in both world wars, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
All honorable edifices to the men who served during America’s greatest 20th century conflicts, they stand as anonymous reminders of sacrifices made.
“We’ve got memorials, but no one knows the names of the people who served,” Rudy Kutchar said Monday as he walked through Memorial Park. Twin concrete slabs on either side of a chipped walkway form the beginnings of a display that will one day bear the names of nearly 1,000 local veterans – those who died and those who lived – as they fought for their country.
When the first granite brick, complete with serviceman or woman’s name, military branch and years of service, is dedicated Memorial Day, it will mark the beginning of a recognition for a fraction of the more than 14,000 veterans living in the county.
“The community’s been behind this 100 percent,” said Kutchar, 79, a Marine Corps veteran who served in New Zealand and Saipan during World War II. Most of the work on the walk has been donated, and word is spreading among veterans about the nominal fee to purchase a brick memorializing their own or a loved one’s service.
For Kutchar, who witnessed pigs eating the bodies of dead Japanese on Saipan, the occasion’s been a long time coming.
“War is hell,” said Kutchar, reflecting on the parallels between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks just six months ago.
“I just hope to heck we don’t get into a nuclear war now,” he said. He’s an American Legion and Marine Corps League member who has lived in Grass Valley intermittently since 1929.
Kutchar helped design a memorial plaque and flagpole in the park 12 years ago and is now helping the Cousin Jack Lions Club and the Marine Corps League finish the new memorial.
Charles McLaughlin of Nevada City said 510 out of 960 plaques have been sold. A plaque costs $50.
A Marine Corps vet who served in Seoul, Inchon and Pusan during the Korean War, McLaughlin, 79, chairman of the Marine Corps League Veterans Memorial Wall Committee, has a special request.
“I’d like to see my name on something before I die,” he said.
McLaughlin, who later became a special agent dealing with organized crime and criminal intelligence for the state Department of Justice, said he remembers fallen friends often, noting that this will be a way others may never forget.
“I always think of the friends that didn’t come back,” he said. “You never forget about war – every time you see (someone) from the service, every time I pass the park, the memories come back.”
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