Ever since their son Matthew died, Reedley residents Dale and Carmen Martinez have maintained this Veterans memorial in their front yard. It faces the busy street to serve a purpose.
"We built the memorial to honor, remember, and to teach others of the sacrifices that our veterans make," Dale said. "We've got to continue to appreciate them, pray for them, pray for their families, and just be thankful. Freedom is not free."
Every time Veterans Day rolls around, they overflow with emotions, especially pride. After high school, their son Matthew served in the Marine Corps. He was deployed twice-- first to Kuwait, then Iraq. Just 10 months after he was discharged, he died from a brain hemorrhage at home. He was 22-years-old leaving a two-year-old son behind. For the past six years, they've celebrated Veterans Day with a whole new meaning.
"Before mijo passed away, it was just a day you remembered, but now it means something," Carmen said. "It's profound, it's amazing."
"Very proud of what he wanted to do, serving his country. He made the ultimate sacrifice. We just have to broaden that honor to all the veterans that have served, who may be struggling with a lot of issues, and to remind people to pray for them and support them as much as we can," said Dale.
Now, with the memorial right outside of their home, they've met a lot of people who stop by to see it. But there's one loyal supporter they haven't met yet - an NJROTRC high school student who stops and salutes the memorial every Wednesday on his way home from school.
Reedley parents honor son through veterans memorial outside home
FACES OF THE VALLEY