EL CENTRO, Calif. – El Centro will soon have a memorial to honor those who have served in our military. It’s a dream Korean War veteran Benny Benavidez has been working towards for quite some time.
“I personally was pursuing for that reason because I think it’s a very necessary, veterans in El Centro need it,” Benavidez said.
City officials called the memorial a necessity. “It’s long overdue. I think the acknowledging our veterans not only here in El Centro but Imperial County is something that probably should’ve been done long ago,“ El Centro Mayor Jason Jackson said.
The memorial will be located near the bridge walk at Bucklin Park. It’s costing tax payers $300,000 to build; a price tag that El Centro council member Efrain Silva said is worth every penny. “This memorial will live on and will provide a level of recognition for all of our veterans for the rest of our lives,” Silva said.
Benavidez said it will have county wide significance. He said, “We could probably bring in veterans from un-incorporated areas.”
For him it is a reminder that freedom is not free but paid for in large part by veterans. “Let the citizens know that the freedom that they enjoy now is at the sacrifice of a lot of our fellow veterans that didn’t come back,” Benavidez said.
Other veterans say it’s a memorial for families as well. “This is a tribute to those whose parents or maybe grandparents all served,” Vietnam Veteran Joe Picazo,Jr., said. “It would help out with their self-value and self-esteem,” Marine Corps veteran Samuel Castro said.
Benavidez said he’s keeping his promise to always remember his friends who didn’t make it back, and he urges everyone to do the same.
“To never forget their veterans,” Benavidez concluded.