Since the founding of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, we have made it our goal to tell the stories of the people who have served our country. We’ve done this through the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, placing plaques onto the walls to honor veterans and their stories. As the memorial has grown, so has our need to expand the size of the memorial. More walls are required so we can continue to honor more of our country’s veterans and tell their stories.
Mt. Soledad’s original plan in 2001 was to expand the memorial from the simple cross already on-site to a set of walls that would hold the plaques of any veterans, deceased or living, whose families wanted to honor them. These plaques displayed their name, their rank, one or two photos, and the insignia for the branch of the Armed Forces that they served in. These granite plaques formed the cornerstone of the new Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial and continue to be the highlight to this day.
Since the initial groundbreaking, the memorial has only grown, with thousands of plaques filling the walls from end to end. This has led us to our current situation; we find ourselves in need of more space for plaques. It has been over seven years since the last set of walls were built, and our desire to tell the stories of veterans continues to burn brighter than ever.
Now, Mt. Soledad has entered a third phase of expansion. This new phase includes 5 new walls that provide enough space for 2,000 more plaques, increasing the memorial substantially. These walls should be completed by the end of 2022 or early 2023.
GDC Construction Company was behind the first two expansions built for the memorial. Phase I included six low walls that radiated outward from the pedestal in the center, with each wall capable of holding 3,200 plaques. At the time, the company was led by George Dewhurst, who helped with the design of what would become Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial after becoming inspired by national war memorials.
The second expansion saw the addition of five walls, also under George Dewhurst, completed in 2015, with an additional 2,400 plaques. GDC Construction oversaw each phase and helped the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association achieve its goal to create a timeless, long-lasting dedication to the veterans of our country.
Now, Pancho Dewhurst, grandson to Walter Dewhurst and son to George, is overseeing the next phase of the memorial’s growth and continuing his family company’s dedication to the La Jolla community, including Mt. Soledad.
On August 16, 2022, Mt. Soledad Memorial Association and GDC Construction held an official groundbreaking ceremony. The celebration focused on commemorating our past as an association and as part of the memorial, and the hopes we have for the future. We are also pleased to be working alongside GDC Construction again for this next chapter in our long history.
Mt. Soledad’s goal has always been and continues to be to tell the stories of those service members who have helped defend our country. With these five new walls, we can continue our work and tell the stories of all veterans– new, old, alive, or deceased– who have served honorably to protect our country.
You may visit the memorial any day, from 7 AM to 10 PM, and learn more about those brave people who have served our country throughout its history. Admission is always free.