Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

War Memorials in CV

Like many American communities, we have honored our young men and women who have served their country in our military forces.

One of our first war memorials was a “service roll” mounted on the side of a drug store in Montrose near the end of WWII. It consisted of a large board, approximately four feet tall and 16 feet wide, carrying the names of all from the Crescenta Valley who had or were currently serving in the military in WWII. Gold stars next to names denoted those who had died in service, and it had a bas-relief eagle mounted above it. It was hung on the exterior wall (facing Ocean View) of Valley Drug Store located on the northwest corner of Honolulu and Ocean View, what is today Fro-Yo Life Frozen Yogurt. I don’t know exactly when it was taken down, but it doesn’t seem to have been there very long.

A more generic war memorial was installed at the then new Two Strike Park on July 4, 1959. It honored “service personnel, both men and women, who had given their lives that we and our children may live in a free and independent America.” At that time, it warranted quite a ceremony – flags, speeches – even the reading of a letter of congratulations from then-Vice President Richard Nixon. County Supervisor Warren Dorn noted in his dedication speech that the 49th star had just been added to our flag, and the 50th was scheduled for next year. He further added that he hoped a ceremony would take place at the new memorial each year.

Our next large memorial was our iconic Vietnam War Memorial, again located on the northwest corner of Honolulu and Ocean View, and it carries names of locals who died in that long-running conflict. Its distinctive geometric design fits nicely with the rest of the shopping park, having been designed by the same architect, La Cañada’s Jack Simison. This edifice carries the distinction of being one of, if not the very first, Vietnam memorial in the country, having been put up in 1967 when that conflict was still ramping up. Memorial Day ceremonies have taken place there each year.

A couple of smaller, more specific memorials are scattered about. One honors the two Zwick Brothers who died within a month of each other in WWII. It’s mounted in the courtyard of Zwick’s Plaza in the Montrose Shopping Park. The other commemorates the graduates of Clark Junior High who died in WWII. It has been recently remounted at the entrance to Clark Magnet High School.

The community is now working on a new memorial – really an old memorial greatly expanded. The Two Strike War Memorial at Two Strike Park languished for decades, somewhat forgotten after its dedication in 1959 until just recently when the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion joined to reinvigorate the site with regular Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies. They are also making plans to rebuild the old memorial and add two walls bearing the names of those servicemen from the valley that made the ultimate sacrifice.

They have mustered an army of local volunteer groups to assist them including the Chamber of Commerce, the CV Town Council, the ROTC, and this newspaper. They also want the community to join in several events they have planned!

Come to Two Strike Park on Friday, Nov. 11 for an all day Veteran’s Day vigil, with a ceremony at 3 p.m. Those who raise $25 toward the memorial fund will get a spot in the veteran’s unit in the Montrose Christmas Parade on Dec. 3. What a wonderful way to introduce a child or grandchild to our local veterans groups, to let them march next to a real veteran!

And on Dec. 8, step back in time to WWII at the USO Canteen at the La Crescenta Woman’s Club. Enjoy period food, music and dancing, and raise money for the memorial.

Get involved with creating our newest memorial, which with our help will break ground next summer. It’s a great way to say “thanks” to our local vets.

Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley. Reach him at

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