Iraq and Afghanistan war dead are honored with Northwood memorial expansion
The citizens of Irvine remain committed to honoring America and those who served it by establishing the Southern California Veterans Cemetery at one of two sites on the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. But no one need wait until a final resting place is decided upon to show respect to the service men and women who defend our nation.
We can honor those who made the supreme sacrifice for our freedom by visiting Irvine’s Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial as its expansion debuts the Sunday before Memorial Day. Last July, the Irvine City Council unanimously approved the Community Services Commission’s recommendation for the improvements. The extension of the plaza will add an additional pedestal to engrave in granite the names of those killed in action since Oct. 1, 2001. The new pedestal will also include a panel with information about Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, the memorial’s history and statistics, and a poem. There will also be two new benches for those who wish to spend time contemplating the memorial and its meaning, and the names of those commemorated at the memorial.
The Gratitude and Honor Memorial was originally dedicated in 2010 as the first permanent memorial to honor every American fallen service member in Afghanistan and Iraq for their sacrifice in service to our country.
The memorial started informally, when Irvine resident Asher Milgrom began building wooden crosses for each service member killed as the Iraq war began in 2003. Milgrom and his family placed the memorials at Northwood Community Park, and soon the candlelit commemoration grew as the community supported and embraced it. As the overseas conflicts continued, more individual memorials were added. Soon, a groundswell grew to make the memorial permanent. Spearheaded by Irvine resident Andy Zelinko, the movement for a permanent memorial grew with community donations in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a $150,000 contribution from the city of Irvine. The city council budgeted $130,000 toward the expansion.
The ceremony on Sunday, May 28 at 4 p.m. will re-dedicate the newly expanded memorial. Gold Star family members will speak about their loved ones who died in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Scott Huesing will be the guest speaker at the ceremony. He is a retired USMC Infantry Major with over 24 years of service, both enlisted and as a commissioned officer. Huesing wrote the book “Echo in Ramadi” about leading the Marines of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines into combat in 2006.
The Northwood Gratitude
and Honor Memorial
Northwood Community Park
4531 Bryan Ave., Irvine