BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It’s one of the bloodiest and most dangerous wars the United States ever fought. The first memorial to honor the fallen and brave who fought in World War II is on its way to Kern, specifically at Jastro Park in Bakersfield, but your help is needed.
The memorial will honor locals who answered the call to serve but it will also honor the more than 16 million American men and women who served in our armed force. In order to get this memorial built by this Veterans Day, generous donations are needed from the community.”
On the front of the memorial it will honor those killed in action,” said Wendy Ward, Vice-Chair of the Kern County WWII Memorial. “683 men and 1 woman, to be exact and on the opposing side we’d like to honor other World War II veterans.”
Bringing a World War II memorial to Kern is long overdue, and with a $500,000 price tag, bringing it as soon as possible is a top priority.
“We are also trying to raise funds to build the memorial, we are going to have several events throughout the year to raise funds for the memorial,” Ward said.
Most of the heroes who served are no longer around, those that are, are above the age of 90.
Some, like Veteran Victor Killingsworth, are north of 100.
“It’s such a beautiful day to unveil this wonderful monument,” said Killingsworth. “I had just turned 21 when I was called to serve.”
The centerpiece of the memorial is sculpted by Bakersfield native artist Benjamin Victor.
Victor was not able to attend in person, but he joined veterans via Zoom.
The memorial also honors the women who answered the call. Women like Louise Lewis who was recruited to work the assembly lines as a riveter while she was attending Kern County High School, now known as Bakersfield High.
“A man was walking right beside me, and he asked me: ‘do you want to build airplanes for the war?” said Lewis. “I said, ‘I’m a girl and he said, ‘do you see any boys around? they’re gone and when he said he would pay me I said: ‘put me down!”
These men and women are part of a generation that united until they reached victory.
“This memorial is special as the people it represents,” said State Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).
“These men and women we are here to honor today are known as the greatest generation, I can tell you firsthand that is not an exaggeration.”
Artist renditions, plans for the memorial, and updates, as well as donations, can be made by logging on to www.kerncountywwiimemorial.com.