America’s Most Patriotic Town
American Flags are constantly flying throughout the town of Hawthorne, set apart as being America’s Most Patriotic Town. In honoring many different wars and those that served within those wars, Veteran’s Park stands as a cornerstone to Hawthorne’s northern entrance along Highway 95.
Throughout the year, the people of Hawthorne plan for their main event on Armed Forces weekend. Town parades from any holiday celebration traditionally end at Veterans Park, where new tributes are included within this landmark park on an annual basis.
Once referred to as “Lady Bird Park” (in relationship to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife embarking on her 1965 Beautification Landscape-Landmark Tour across America), eventually it seemed more appropriate, with the town’s history and values, to be named Veteran’s Park.
Home to the World’s Largest Ammunition Base, with the Army and Navy presence being the predominant employers in the county, Veterans Park has become the place of many gatherings and tributes, brought about by several active military organizations.
Recently, the Battlefield Cross was dedicated, atop a large rock, on which seven names are listed on a bronze plaque. These Marines were tragically killed on March 18, 2013, during a training mishap at the local base. Part of the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., these soldiers will be long remembered by this sentiment under the town’s big flag, which waves as a reminder to the many who sacrifice for this country.
The Battlefield Cross stands as a symbolic value of duty, loyalty, courage, and unselfish service, specifically for the soldiers who perished while serving this country. In the Civil War era, as a way of marking the death of a fallen soldier, rifles were inverted into the ground and any ID or headgear was hung on top. Over time, ID tags and helmets were included, with combat boots standing empty. At Hawthorne’s Veterans Park, this tribute stands against the sky’s backdrop, as a remembrance beyond honoring those seven soldiers; it will remain a place of mourning for any visitor wishing to take a moment to honor the passing of a soldier.
Within the park, one will also see a vintage Hawthorne sign, once a local icon on the historic Hawthorne Club, originally located on 5th and E St., this retro neon signage is known as “A Pillar of Light” and was dedicated at the current location on March 1, 1997. The Hawthorne Club was demolished in 1996, and in March of 2017 heavy winds unexpectedly toppled this unique sign, creating damage that took over eight months to repair. Locals have celebrated the return of the refurbished sign.
The local Lion’s Club commissioned a massive undertaking of bomb-based windmill art, created and constructed along the park’s venue, to draw in tourists who stop for photo ops. As an eye-candy of whirling magic, these remain Hawthorne’s most unique conversation pieces.
Strolling through this park, many tributes are available to read, including a Rapid-Fire, Full-Sized Turning Gun donated by the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot in 1968. Children love climbing atop the guns steel girth, which creates a metal jungle gym for play. Plan your trip to include this park of amusement and tribute along Highway 95, across from McDonald’s.
— Sheri Samson