Saddleback College Veterans Memorial dedication

Now that patriots have departed from the Mission Viejo TEA Party let me now suggest attending the following “free” event to honor our veterans and the freedom for which they have fought to preserve. On Thursday, April 29th Mission Viejo’s Saddleback College will honor veterans with a Memorial dedication as detailed below:

Mission Viejo, CA–Saddleback College will welcome hundreds of veterans, community members, elected officials, students, faculty and staff to the college’s Veterans Memorial Dedication on Thursday, April 29th at 4:00p.m. to celebrate the completion of the most significant tribute to veterans at any community college campus in the nation. The event is free to the public and will be held in the Saddleback College Quad. The college’s dedication of the memorial is the exciting culmination of six years of work put forth by community members, students, faculty, staff and administrators.

The event will also include an open house of the college’s Veterans Education Transition Services (VETS) Center, a one stop program devoted to helping our student veterans succeed. Through this program, veterans have the opportunity to enroll in a class that supports transitioning combat veterans into the college and civilian community. In conjunction with the college’s longstanding Veterans Office, the VETS Center can help veterans maximize their financial aid, gain access to tutoring, choose and education path and meet other veterans through the Saddleback College Veterans club.

“This memorial, along with our unique services, shows just how committed Saddleback College is to supporting our student veterans,” said Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President. “The memorial is a wonderful way to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans and military retirees from our college and community. I thank all of the donors and volunteers who have worked so hard to achieve this long-awaited goal for our college and community.”

Veterans and active-duty speakers at the event include, Undersecretary Rocky J. Chavez, California Department of Veterans Affairs, United States Marine Corps (Retired); Sergeant Major Ramona E. Cook, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton; David Curry, Iraq War veteran, United States Marine Corps and Saddleback College Alumnus; and Marty Samuel Saddleback College Board of Governors, United States Marine Corps (Retired).

In addition to honoring the service of our veterans and military personnel, the inaugural will include a Color Guard, military band and raising of the American flag at the memorial. The flag is the first American flag that was flown over the United States Embassy in Vietnam, a gift from Chapter 785 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, which was obtained from the honorable Pete Peterson, the first U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.

The concept for building the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial began on Veterans Day 2004, when a Saddleback College committee comprised of veterans and those interested in honoring the men and women who have served our country met to find a way to permanently pay homage to veterans. This is lasting tribute to veterans will memorialize their service, their bravery, and their dedication to protecting our freedom.

Professor Richard White, Chair of the Saddleback College Art Department, and local artist Fred Olsen were slated to design and build the memorial. Along with the help of art students, the artists constructed the memorial on campus by using a ‘fire in place’ ceramics technique. The ‘fire in place’ ceramic technique is a perfect metaphor in building this memorial; its transformation process is representative of the troops who have had a transformation effort on our nation,” said White.

“The Veterans Memorial symbolizes America, freedom, democracy..all the things that veterans have fought so hard for and have died for…it’s everything this country is about,” said Howard Dwight, United States Marine Corps Veteran and Fiscal/Veterans Specialist in the College’s Veterans Office.

The Saddleback College Veterans Memorial dedication is free and open to all members of the community. Free parking will be available in all campus lots. For a campus map, visit

About Larry Gilbert