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City to salute local veterans with new cannon memorial
The Korean War era cannon that used to sit in front of the War Memorial Building on Canal Drive will be dedicated at its new home in Central Park at 11 a.m. Wednesday. - photo by Photo Contributed

The City of Turlock will celebrate Veterans Day with a rededication ceremony Wednesday that will honor local veterans for their service and welcome the historic War Memorial Cannon at its new home in Central Park.

Mayor Gary Soiseth and Congress Jeff Denham will lead the event, which is also anticipated to feature a performance from the award-winning Pitman High School band. Members of the armed forces and representatives of local veteran groups are also expected to attend.

“The War Memorial Cannon has occupied a central place of distinction in our Turlock community for more than 50 years,” said Soiseth. “It’s an honor to be mayor as we rededicate this piece of our military history that will pay tribute to veterans for decades to come."

After the City of Turlock sold the 900 N. Palm Avenue properties, which previously held the War Memorial Cannon, to Turlock Irrigation District earlier this year, the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission convened with the public to evaluate several locations that could potentially house the cannon.

Local veterans groups such as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter and also Korean War veterans all had stakes in this project and worked closely with the City to find a reasonable solution for the cannon’s new resting spot.

“We’re all looking forward to rededicating the cannon to that area so its visible to everyone to take a look at it—not only veteran groups but also the whole city,” said American Legion Rex Ish Post 88 Commander Wardee “Gunner” Bruce in October.

The City of Turlock has continued to hold, keep, maintain and display the War Memorial Cannon within the city, where it has occupied a placed of distinction for over half of a decade, in trust for the continued benefit of citizens. The cannon’s public display is presented as a tribute to all veterans who have served or who are currently serving in the United States of America’s armed forces.

Additionally, the City will include one green light during the lighting of the cannon memorial as part of the “Greenlight a Vet” campaign, which encourages people to change one light to green in a visible location as a symbol of appreciation and support for veterans. The City has also changed out a green light at City Hall and other city buildings as part of the national campaign.

The 105 MM Howitzer Artillery Cannon, which was developed and used by the United States, is 19 feet long and weighs 5,000 pounds. The artillery piece was considered the standard U.S. light field howitzer during World War II and was used in both the European and Pacific theaters.

When it entered into production in 1941, this type of cannon was viewed as cutting-edge technology and quickly gained a reputation for its accuracy and powerful punch. The weapon was deemed suitable for supporting infantry as it was capable of shooting high explosive semi-fixed ammunition up to 36,975 feet away.

Due to these qualities and its widespread production, the 105 MM Howitzer Artillery Cannon was adopted by many other countries following the war. The ammunition used by the artillery piece also went on to become the standard in foreign countries’ later models.

The rededication ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the newly installed display in Central Park, 115 S. Golden State Blvd.