Local man helping World War II legacy
Last updated 11/7/2021 at 7:22am | View PDF
A Shafter man has been working hard to make sure that World War II veterans are remembered in a special way.
The Kern County World War II Memorial will be built in Bakersfield at Jastro Park, at the site of the outdoor theater arena.
Ed Gaede, a Shafter High graduate, is the director of the committee that is heading up the memorial effort. Gaede has been involved in local veterans' causes for years on the committee that operates the Portrait of a Warrior museum in downtown Bakersfield.
After getting the authorization from the Kern County Board of Supervisors, the committee is moving forward and are hoping that the memorial will be finished by Veterans Day 2022.
"This memorial will be a great addition to the existing memorials here on Truxtun Avenue, including the Korean War Memorial," Gaede said.
Gaede said that they are attempting to have a stretch of Truxtun Avenue where the memorials are located named Avenue of Heroes.
"We were thinking maybe a sign when entering that part of Bakersfield, along Truxtun Avenue, maybe something like 'Welcome to the Avenue of Heroes,' recognizing the effort that our county has taken up, making sure that our local heroes are never forgotten," Gaede said.
There are 487 veterans from Kern County that lost their lives during World War II that will be remembered on the memorial. One is a Shafter man who lost his life on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
There are going to be flag poles in place with flags flying on them, with black granite slabs with the veterans names engraved on them.
Gaede said that there will be an opportunity for Kern County residents to have their loved ones' names on the back of the granite slabs, of veterans who fought in World War II and returned safely. Those residents can sponsor a veteran for $250, which will get their veteran's name included on the memorial.
"People can bring their sons, daughters, grandchildren, to the memorial and see their loved ones name on the memorial," Gaede said.
There are also larger sponsorship levels, including the Patriot level at $250, which gets a loved one's name on the memorial, up to the General level at $50,000. There are also going to be a few benches at the site, which can be sponsored for your veteran to be honored with.
Gaede said that Kern County has been very supportive to its veterans in the past, and he sees no difference in this effort.
"Kern County has been and will continue to be a patriotic community," said Gaede. "I'm confident our nonprofit organization will see a generous outpouring of public, private, corporate and in-kind support and donations to help build this reverent, long-overdue memorial."
In fact, area businesses are already stepping up to help.
Steve Ogden Concrete, for example, has offered to handle the concrete