Exeter High School graduates from the 1960's managed to raise 15-thousand-dollars for a memorial as a way to honor their classmates who never made it home from Vietnam.
Despite the rain, Exeter's Triangle Park was filled with veterans and their supporters Friday. During the late afternoon ceremony, this new monument was unveiled. Beneath the bronze battlefield cross, a plaque bares the names of 8 former Exeter High School students. All were killed in combat during the Vietnam War.
Randy Meek said, "It's something that's been long over-due."
Meek's older brother, Joe was the first Tulare County casualty. He died in September of 1965.
"We're thankful," said Meek. "We're thankful for the city of Exeter and thankful to the people who put it together."
The idea to build a memorial stemmed during a recent Exeter High School reunion. Classmates were reminiscing about their friends who weren't there. That's when, John Dillon from the class of 1964 started reaching out to other alumni.
John Dillon said, "We said we're gonna do this, boom. We had, within three weeks; we had a thousand -- or at least 10-thousand dollars, close to it."
Dillon says he was overwhelmed with the amount of support. So is Harry Petty. His brother, Eugene, was among those who died. He passed away in September of 1966.
Harry Petty said, "It's very touching and it's good that his friends and fellow students remembered these fellows."
Now, they have a symbolic place to remember those who lost their lives. Not just on Veterans Day, but every day that follows.
With this monument now a permanent fixture, organizers hope to use this location to hold other events honoring veterans in years to come.