Fate of Soldier Memorial Uncertain


Erika Riedel

The fate of the iconic memorial on the hillside across from the Lafayette BART station remains unclear.

Freshmen Katie Strohmeyer, who lives in Lafayette and passes by the memorial 1 to 2 times a month, said, “I think that it’s really great that people took the time to do it, but it’s also very striking whenever you see the number go up as the years pass. It is just a good reminder of what is actually going on in the world and that people are still dying in war and that it’s not a thing of the past.”

Junior Claire Sebree, who drives by the monument every week, said, “I think it’s really nice, I really appreciate that it’s there. People here don’t really think an out that kind of stuff a lot and how it affects people around us. They think that it is people who have passed away. I just think that it’s a nice reminder that there are people who are fighting really hard for us and not just on Memorial Day that they remember them.”

The “Hill of Crosses” 1st appeared in 2006. Louise and Johnson Clark, anti-war advocates, owned the land when Jeffrey Heating, a building contractor and a friend of the Clarks’, asked if he could place crosses on the hill honoring those who lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to Lamorinda Weekly.

Louise and Johnson Clark have since passed away and the land is currently owned by Charles Clark, their son, who has said that he plans to sell it. In addition, due to a municipal code that was put in place after the memorial was installed, the city is considering compelling the owner to remove it.

For some residents, the cross memorial has become an iconic part of the community. Math teacher Dagmar Ortman, a resident of Lafayette, said, “I actually liked it when it was going on but now that it is not being maintained, the crosses, it is understandable for it to be taken down.”

Freshman Kira Jamgotchian, a Moraga resident, said, “It is a reminder of all the people in my community who fight [in the Iraq and Afghanistan] war.”

“I think they should reconsider their process and try to find a way to not take them down,” said Jamgotchian.

Sebree said, “I understand that space in Lafayette is pretty tight and that Lafayette could make a lot of money off of that land. I get that, but I also appreciate that it’s there and would be kind of disappointed if it was taken away.”

“I think that the nature of it is that it is going to have to be taken down at some point. I think it’s going to be sad and that it is one of the special things that we have in Lafayette, but the owner can do what they want to do with it… it’s going to have to end at some point,” said Strohmeyer.