As Americans pause on Dec. 7 to honor those veterans and others killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, some may find themselves drawn to Cambria’s recently upgraded memorial flag-stand area.
The star-shaped base that holds poles for Old Glory and flags representing five branches of the military has been in place for decades.
But those who’ve been working on the four-phase, five-year project feel that recent changes are converting that area into something more dignified, more respectful and more awe inspiring.
Even with much of the work done, people can still donate to American Legion Post No. 432 to help pay off an $8,000 debt on the project that’s estimated to have cost nearly $131,000.
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The latter figure doesn’t include the $25,000 Peace Garden installed by the two Cambria Rotary clubs or a Main Street walkway installed by the county. Also, artist Jay Burbank designed, assembled and installed a hand-carved wood bench, two sculptures, metal wording on the sides of the star and the post’s Troop Support sign.
The flag stand
A block off Highway 1, the flag-stand corner is part of a community hub that includes the vets hall. Cambria Drive, along one boundary of the property, is a primary gateway into town. The memorial building itself serves as a sort of combination city hall (minus the governmental offices) and busy event venue for the unincorporated town. The hall and property at 1000 Main St. are owned by the Cambria Community Services District.
The legion has its post club in the building, and the stately memorial flag stand is at the Main Street-Cambria Drive corner of the parking lot, along one edge of the area where the farmers market is held every Friday.
All the flag-stand upgrades were designed to make the memorial more attractive and welcoming to the public, as well as highlighting veterans that the entire area is dedicated to honoring.
The final upgrade to the flag stand area is under way. A bronze dedication plaque is to be ordered in early January; it will honor donors and the team from the post that built the original memorial flag stand in 1988. The dedication is planned for Memorial Day 2017.
According to Legion sources, the current work will include a flag line will extend out from the memorial in both directions along the edge of the parking lot. During special events and on special days, that line will display about three dozen 3-foot-by-5-foot American flags on the north and east sides of the parking lot. The flags will be mounted on 7-foot-tall poles about 5 feet apart.
The foundation for the flag line is to be built soon.
The project’s original design includes a brick walkway from the memorial to the vets hall, tentatively titled the “Walk of Honor.” That walkway could be included in this phase or done sometime in the future.
Previous upgrades were done in 2011, 2012 and earlier this year. The work began with brick paving on the top and sides of the flag stand’s star-shaped pedestal. Many of those bricks carry dedications to veterans of the past and today, along with other people.
The next phase included two monument stones, bases and flag poles (one set to honor veterans still missing in action, and the other to honor merchant mariners who served in World War II and who were officially declared veterans more than 40 years later).
The third phase included night lighting, a concrete pony wall and a brick walkway that filled in the area from the pedestal edge to the wall.
Once the final upgrade is complete, post members hope that people will use the area frequently — not just on patriotic holidays — as a place where they can reflect on the country’s history and future and how important veterans have been and will continue to be.
You can help
Donate to the American Legion Post No. 432 project to upgrade Cambria’s memorial flag stand area by sending checks to Terry and Jeri Farrell, c/o American Legion Post No. 432, P.O. Box 697, Cambria CA 93428-0697. Donations should carry the notation that the gift is for the Veterans Memorial Fund. For details, go to www.legionpost432.com or email Terry Farrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.