In honor of Veteran’s Day, I’d like to mention the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial. Regardless of how you feel about the cross itself, it’s pretty moving to take in the stories of men and women who have served our country. Not to mention, the 360° panoramic views are a photographer’s dream, the site itself is full of history and it’s a very popular San Diego attraction for all ages.
The memorial is owned by the Federal Government but maintained by the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association solely through the purchase of plaques and zero federal funding.
The goal is to honor veterans from any branch of the military through the placement of black granite plaques on the walls of the memorial. Over 3300 plaques tell the stories of living and deceased veterans from the Revolutionary War through current conflicts in the Middle East. In addition to the six original concentric walls, five new walls were recently constructed to display an additional will display 3200 plaques and the eligibility criteria are outlined online should you be interested in honoring a veteran with a plaque. A helpful plaque locator online helps family and friends locate a veteran while a docent is usually available onsite to assist and answer any questions. The memorial is a unique way to document military heritage and promote military appreciation.
Honorees include Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Ford and Reagan, twelve Medal of Honor recipients, Admirals Stockdale and Halsey, Generals Pershing and Patton, celebrity veterans Audie Murphy and Jimmy Stewart.
A Site Of Three Crosses
Three different crosses have resided at the top of Mt. Soledad. The first was a simple wooden cross placed in 1913 by Pacific Beach and La Jolla residents which was later stolen. A sturdier cross of stucco and wood was placed in 1934 by a private group of Christians from La Jolla and Pacific Beach. It was later blown down in a 1952 windstorm. Today’s 29′ tall cross was erected in 1954 to honor Korean War veterans and in 1998, the cross was transformed into the centerpiece of a Korean War Memorial.
Throughout the years, the land below the cross was public, made private and then returned to the government. As La Jolla residents know, the cross has been subject to litigation because it’s a religious symbol placed on public land. I’m not here to argue one side or the other, but it would be remiss to write an article about this popular San Diego attraction without mentioning that little tidbit. Whatever the verdict, the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association says on their website that they will comply.
Panoramic Views Of La Jolla And More
A grassy area called Soledad Natural Park surrounds the memorial. People take advantage of the many benches available to soak up San Diego’s best view and reflect in a quiet place. The orange and green San Diego Trolley Tours car stops here frequently allowing tourists amazing photo opportunities as well as a chance to view the plaques.
Interesting fact: Charles Lindbergh actually used this point for glider flights in the 1920s.
Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Special Events
Major events are held at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial on the Saturdays prior to Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, though more than 40 individual honor ceremonies occur throughout the year. The memorial is absolutely a family-friendly and free thing to do in La Jolla.
I highly recommend a visit as a way to illustrate to kids why they have a day off from school in November and May. Have you been?
Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial
6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive South
La Jolla, CA 92037
Memorial is open from 7:00 am to 10:00pm.