OAKLEY -- For many years, members of the community had hoped to get their veterans monument back on Oakley soil, where they believed it rightly belonged. But when it became evident that they would lose that battle, it was decided that the important objective was to honor the veterans of the community.
With just a little more help from that community, that goal is about to be fulfilled.
In 2012, city leaders and a local veterans organization began fundraising efforts to build a memorial on the corner of Norcross Lane and Main Street at the city's Civic Center. As of last week, the committee had raised $51,000 of the $70,000 needed to build the monument.
With Memorial Day around the corner, they are hoping to encourage more donations at their Memorial Day celebration set for May 24 at the site where they hope to place the memorial.
"The ultimate goal is to have an unveiling by Veterans Day," Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery said.
The memorial is planned to be five red granite, squared columns that surround a blue granite base upon which the American flag will fly. Each of the representative columns will bear the insignias of the five branches of the U.S. military: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
At the head of the monument will be a white marble "Victory Eagle" as a reminder of the monument that once stood in Oakley.
The original monument was built in 1926 at the spot where the Contra Costa and Sacramento county lines met at the time. It was a bronze eagle monument that many might remember seeing at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in Antioch just inside the front gate.
The monument was part of a project called "The Victory Highway," which originally planned to place similar monuments at each county line throughout the nation. But the project was stalled, and only seven such monuments were erected.
In 1976, the monument was taken down during roadwork and kept at the fairgrounds for safe keeping, where it now stands.
Several local businesses have supported the project, helping to raise more than $17,000 in donations, according to assistant city manager Nancy Marquez-Suarez.
Other business have offered help in supporting fundraising events and allowing groups to sit at their locations to publicize the project and accept donations.
"The Patriot Sentinel Riders have gone to the streets accepting community donations outside the Lucky's grocery store," Marquez-Suarez said of the local veterans support group.
The rest of the contributions have come from local residents who have purchased bricks and benches to honor their loved ones who have served in the military and during wartime. Each brick purchased is $125 and comes with three engraved lines with 15 characters per line.
It is not necessary to have a family or friend who was killed in a war to purchase a brick, according to Marquez-Suarez. Anyone interested in supporting the cause is welcome to purchase a brick and place their own name on it.
Donations are also accepted without the purchase of a brick.
Those interested should contact the city at 925-625-7000 or go to www.ci.oakley.ca.us for an application.
What: Memorial Day Observance Ceremony
When: 10:30 a.m. May 24
Where: Oakley Civic Center Park, 3231 Main St.
Program: Presentation of colors; performance by Freedom High School Choir; MIA/POW table; Two Bell ceremony; Memorial Day address; presentation of wreath, Taps and three volley salute