BARSTOW • A group of community members and veterans has established a foundation dedicated to establishing  a memorial park honoring Barstow's veterans.

The Barstow Veterans Memorial Park Foundation met for the first time in January and has since formed a board of directors. For the month of October, the foundation's board will be developing its bylaws and establishing subcommittees of members who will research and identify land for the park.

"We've discussed some parcels (of land)," said Marvin Ellis, chairman of the foundation. "Originally we wanted approximately a five-acre parcel we could put a park in."

The memorial park foundation is currently seeking non-profit status, Ellis said. Members are also researching the possibility of joining under the umbrella of another veteran's organization so it could start raising funds for the park.

Foundation members currently include veteran's support groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion. Councilman Willie Hailey Sr. and Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez are foundation members. Hailey had brought the memorial park idea to the City Council earlier this year. He has also gotten support from Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Ellis said.

Eventually the foundation would like to establish a national veteran's cemetery in Barstow. But Ellis said it is currently just focusing on the park.

"(We'll) build the park," he said. "And the park will be a gateway to the national cemetery. People can come and visit it without actually entering the cemetery."

Calvin Phillips, president of the local Association of United States Army chapter and a foundation member, said establishing a memorial park in Barstow makes sense. Barstow's home to the largest army instillation in the state at Fort Irwin and the Marine Corp Logistics Base, he pointed out.

Also, he said, the park could be used as a place for community activities, such as concerts, and holiday ceremonies.  

"Barstow's a military town," he said. "The question is why don't we have one."

The foundation's next meeting will be the second Thursday of November. Meetings are currently not open to the public, but eventually members would like to have the public's input, Ellis said.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com