CASTRO VALLEY -- Michael L. Emerson spearheaded the effort to build the Flight 93 Memorial in Union City, then made major contributions to the national monument in Pennsylvania that honors the 9/11 heroes who gave their lives while stopping terrorists on that fateful flight.
Now the ex-Marine from Hayward has turned his sights closer to home, leading the charge for a Castro Valley Veterans Memorial.
Emerson, 49, heads a seven-person committee, all members of the Castro Valley-based Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 9601, who are working to make the planned memorial a reality.
"I want this to be a place where veterans and civilians can go to reflect on what veterans have done for our country, state, county and town of Castro Valley," said Emerson, an Operation Desert Storm veteran.
The $125,000 memorial, which was designed by Emerson, will be constructed at Castro Valley Community Park at 18988 Lake Chabot Road, next to Quail Avenue.
The monument will feature a large star inside a circle 35 feet in diameter, with an American flag atop a pole in the center. Around the flagpole is a pedestal with seven sides, which will be surrounded by six black granite slabs representing the branches of service -- Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Merchant Marines and Navy.
On the back of each slab will be 99 names of those who served in each branch, Emerson said.
Organizers are charging $200 for each engraved veteran's name, and
The memorial, whose ceremonial groundbreaking was March 3, is being funded in part by private gifts, and more than a dozen Bay Area construction-related companies have pledged to donate supplies and labor to build it.
The monument also has received support from officials from Alameda County and the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, which donated the quarter-acre plot of land.
Dennis Waespi, president of the district's board of directors, praised Emerson and the veterans organization for their work.
"The memorial's long overdue and it's going to be beautiful," Waespi said. "It's great that the Castro Valley community can get together and do this, and HARD is pleased to be a part of it."
The biggest financial gift has come from the family of Travis Amsbaugh, a former Marine who died Sept. 1. Minda Amsbaugh and Craig Alton -- Travis' parents, of Castro Valley -- donated $50,000 in his honor.
The memorial still has a long way to go before it's ready for its planned Veterans Day unveiling Nov. 11, but it will all be worth it when it's done, Emerson said.
"It's important to honor and remember the veterans who sacrificed their lives, bodies and years defending our great nation," he said. "If you don't honor them, our country will have a hard time getting future veterans to join the military."
To donate or for more information about the memorial, go to www.cvvm.info.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.