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Yuma Armed Forces Park a place of comfort and hope
• Plaques can be purchased for $125 to honor past and current military.
• Pick up an application at the Arizona Department of Veteran Services, 2811 S. 4th Ave., Suite D.
• Or fill out the online application at the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce website, www.yumachamber.org.
• For more information, call Art Nottingham, Arizona Department of Veteran Services, at 726-2851 or 246-3558.
The Armed Forces Park in downtown Yuma is “a place of comfort and sign of hope” for the generations of today and those to come, according to Monsignor Richard O'Keeffe.
When the memorial and meditative park was dedicated in 2008, O'Keeffe described it as a place where people could reflect on the price paid to protect this nation's freedoms.
A sign proclaims that the park is “dedicated to honor and revere the sacrifices of all past, present and future veterans.”
The one-acre park, located at 281 Gila St., at the site of the old railroad depot, has several walls with more than 2,000 black granite plaques honoring Yuma-area veterans.
The park also has polished granite tables etched with the service emblems of the various branches of the nation's armed services – Army, Navy, Marines, Merchant Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard.
A sixth table honors prisoners of war and missing in action. Several benches allow visitors to sit down and meditate. A concrete amphitheater seats a couple hundred people.
The park, which was the first of its kind in Arizona, was the result of a partnership between the city of Yuma and the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce.
Ken Rosevear, the chamber's executive director, said he hoped it would remain an “emblem of the community's dedication to the military” for many years to come.
Work on the eight-year project first began in 2000. Proceeds from plaque sales and donations from area businesses and organizations funded the estimated $50,000 cost. Area businesses also donated much of the labor.
In 2008 at the dedication ceremony, the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee handed over the park to the city of Yuma Parks and Recreation Department, which maintains it.
The park was the first of its kind in Arizona when it was built.
It honors active, former or retired service members. Each plaque has the veteran's name, date of service, rank and service emblem.
Each plaque is eight inches high and 16 inches wide, and costs $125.
To order a plaque or for more information, call Art Nottingham at the Arizona Department of Veteran Services, 726-2851 or 246-3558.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 539-6856.