BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Hundreds gathered for the unveiling of the Kern County World War II Veterans Memorial at Jastro Park in Bakersfield.

Forty Kern County World War II veterans were celebrated during the ceremony. Hundreds of people came out for the unveiling of the Kern County WWII memorial. Many of them, veterans themselves.

“We have to remember what came before us and what can possibly come after us. We have to remember freedom is not free,” Kerry Adams a Vietnam veteran said.

The memorial has six pillars. Each featuring the emblem of one of our country’s military branches during World War II. Below those emblems are the names of Kern County’s World War II warriors who gave their lives to fight for our freedom.

“We will honor this generation with this statue with this memorial with their names and we will honor them more by learning a story for each of those names,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

On the opposite side of every pillar are the names of the WWII veterans who made it back home.

“One of the greatest traits about them was they didn’t want any fanfare. They would tell you they were just doing what was needed. What the country needed. That they were not heroes but we know them as the greatest generation,” McCarthy said.

Nationally recognized sculptor and Kern native Benjamin Victor made the sculpture for the memorial. It’s not of a soldier but of a mother who just received notice her husband or her son would not be returning from duty. You can see a tear roll down her cheek while a baby is cradled in her arms.

“It seems like the older you get the more emotional you get and it’s so common for people to say, ‘Thank you for your service’ and I’m not sure if they’ll ever hear their response but the response is: “You deserve it. You deserve it,” Walter Grainger a World War II veteran said.