The Santa Barbara Municipal Airport recently constructed a World War II memorial in honor of local aviators who died during their service.

The black granite obelisk – a miniature version of the Washington Monument located at the east end of the airport – was designed to honor those who trained on the airport land in 1942 when it was used as a marine base. Last Thursday, the airport hosted a celebration of the monument, which included the flying of World II-era planes, a gun salute and a speech by Mayor Marty Blum.

In the past, local veterans such as David Love and William Moffett have had streets named in their honor. Airport expansions and upgrades, however, may eliminate some of these roads in the future. According to Santa Barbara Municipal Airport Director Karen Ramsdell, the issue of airport expansion was a huge motivation behind the construction of the new monument.

“Ten years ago it became evident that the streets honoring veterans might go away,” Ramsdell said. “We didn’t want those names to be forgotten.”

Although streets have been named in honor of veterans in the past, some community members feel as though a different – and more inclusive – memorial is long overdue. World War II veteran Ken Linder said he was disappointed in the lack of recognition prior to the new monument’s unveiling.

“This memorial is something that should have happened years ago when the base was closed,” Linder said. “We’ve never heard any praise or any thanks until this memorial.”

John Blankenship, the director of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans’ Museum and Library, hopes that the monument will stand to remind the community of the important role Goleta played in the past as a military base and training site for the war.

“The effect of this memorial is to bring awareness,” Blankenship said. “I think everyone has forgotten that men trained at the airport as a marine base. Younger kids don’t even seem to know who fought in the war.”

Despite criticism that the monument will be viewed as a pro-war sentiment, Ramsdell maintains that it is solely meant to preserve the memory of those who lost their lives.

“The purpose of the memorial is not to glorify war, but to honor World War II veterans that lost their lives to preserve our freedom, which many people take for granted,” he said.

Blankenship added that he hopes Santa Barbara and Goleta locals will appreciate the monument’s symbolism.

“I think about their sacrifices and then I think to my life today,” Blankenship said. “It was really something. I hope people will remember what they did.”