In the United States, September 11 is a day for reflecting on the services of our first responders and those veterans who serve and defend our country both here and in foreign lands. Throughout the country there are many veterans and first responder memorials, and so it is with Beaumont, California. The city of less than 50,000 residents is located east of the Los Angeles metro in Southern California. The plaque above is implanted in the sidewalk of a memorial that happens to have a personal connection with my family.
On the front grounds of this unassuming Civic Center located on East 6th Street, two small memorials were constructed, one for the local first responders, the other for Beaumont veterans.
You see, my friends, many years ago, around the time of the Korean Conflict, two of my brothers were sailors assigned to the USS Rochester. On that ship, they met two Beaumont sons, John J. “Jack” Hurlbirt and his brother, Bill. My sister, Veronica, was introduced and ultimately found herself married to Jack. They raised a family of four children. After his military service, Jack became an officer in the Long Beach (CA) Police Force. Upon his retirement, they moved to New Mexico where they lived until Jack passed on in 2010.
Jack and his brother, Bill, being from Beaumont have been memorialized on the engraved tablets featuring the names of favorite son veterans from Beaumont. The Beaumont Veterans Memorial was dedicated during a ceremony on Veterans Day in 2002 by the Beaumont Veterans of Foreign War Post 233. The memorial honors deceased citizens who lived in Beaumont and served in a branch of the U.S. military or in the Allied Armed Forces.
My sister gave me a photo taken in 2001 of the four shipmates. From left to right, Joe Steiner, Jack Hurlbirt, Gerald Steiner, and Bill Hurlbirt. They were all gathered together to attend a family wedding near San Diego, California.
Opposite the Veterans Memorial, The Public Safety Memorial is dedicated to local police and firefighters. The memorial honors deceased police and fire personnel who lived in or served the Beaumont or Cherry Valley area during their lifetime. Located in a rose garden, the memorial consists of three granite slabs where names of police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty or served our communities during their lifetime are honored. Benches dedicated to specific veterans and first responders give visitors a place to sit and contemplate during their visit. The small park in front of the Civic Center is truly a fitting memorial to those from Beaumont who have served their community and country well.