Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach's old War Memorial


This Monday May 29, 2023 we will remember all those who gave their lives for freedom and if you have time stop by the city's war memorial located on the east side of the civic center and give thanks and a silent prayer to all those names listed on that cold, black stone on your way to a cemetery to decorate the grave of a friend or relative who died in a war.

When I was growing up, this was a special day only we called it Decoration Day and we would pick flowers in our backyard and drive out to East LA to the Odd Fellows Cemetery to put flowers and a flag on the graves of our relations.

This week were are going to remember our old war memorial that stood at our Civic Center at Fifth and Orange and later at our present civic center at Main and Yorktown.

It was on a warm spring day, May 30, 1949 that Huntington Beach Mayor Jack Greer unveiled the city's War Memorial to a crowd of over 1500 people that assembled at the old Civic Center at Fifth and Orange. On that simple stone were the words 'Lest we forget our heroes of all wars,' with this simple sentence, etched into the gray granite, Huntington Beach paid tribute to the men and women who fought and died in war.

After several talks by distinguished military guests, William Gallienne, Secretary-Manager of the Chamber of Commerce introduced James S. Sayer who explained how it took nearly two years to plan today's event. 

Roy Patterson, Commander of the American Legion accepted the war memorial on behalf of all veterans. Patterson told those attended that contained inside the granite is a sealed, air tight bronze box listing the names of 706 local WW II veterans. These names were inscribed on the roll of honor that stood on the corner of Main and Olive during WW II.


Memorial Day May 30, 1964

There was a bronze plaque added above the memorial that was dedicated May 30, 1964, by Huntington Beach Post 7368 with a list of those from the Huntington Beach area who gave their lives in WW I and WW II

The War Memorial was taken from the old Civic Center to a location of our present Civic Center on Main and Yorktown and rededicated November 11, 1979. It stood by one of the massive columns by the top of the fountain.



When the present war memorial that we see today was dedicated in May 26, 1997, the old war memorial was removed and taken to one of our veterans organizations.

Originally only the names of those who died in World War I and World Wat II were on that new memorial stone, but thanks to Bob Kakuk of the Vietnam War Veterans of Orange County and members of local VFW and American Legion, additional names were added when Kakuk spearheaded a drive to add the names of veterans killed in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War and I also located a name left off who died at Pearl Harbor on that Sunday, December 7, 1941 and I hope that we will not have to add more names of men and women killed in future wars. Photos:CityArchives