The Faces of Freedom Memorial is a worthy addition to sites in Central California which are well worth visiting.
Located about 1 mile south of Highway 101 on Morro Road (Highway 41), it honors those veterans from San Luis Obispo County who gave the "last full measure of devotion".
There are three main components to this beautiful and solemn memorial: the Pathway to Freedom; the Faces of Freedom statue; and the Heroes Wall.
Address: 8038 Portola Road, Atascadero, CA 93422 (on the corner of Portola and Highway 41, aka Morro Road)
GPS Coordinates: 35.46810, -120.66949
Dedicated: November 8, 2008
Sculptor: Mark Greenaway
Sponsoring Organization: Atascadero Veterans Memorial Foundation
Also Known as: Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial
Parking: Ample; approximately 40 spaces
Facilities: none; but restrooms are available next door at the Atascadero Lake Park.
Accessibility: Good; level paved walkways
The Pathway to Freedom is paved with inscribed bricks honoring those who served and returned home to their families.
A newer addition to this area are six black marble benches, each inscribed with the qualities and virtues which exemplify the veteran's service: Duty; Honor; Commitment; Sacrifice; Country and Courage.
An unfortunate occurrence took place here on January 1, 2014. A person, perhaps inebriated from a New Year's celebration, drove through this hallowed memorial and damaged several of the benches. He did turn himself in later in the day, but nonetheless, it shows a disturbing disregard for the real meaning of this memorial.
The center of the Memorial is the "Faces of Freedom" statue, created by artist Mark Greenaway. It is a stirring portrait of the continuity of dedication and sacrifice that has marked the veterans of this area from World War 1 to the present day.
The reverse of the flag is a beautiful representation of our national symbol, the bald eagle. (My apologies for the shadow in the photo below)
The final part of the memorial is the Heroes Wall. There are plaques for each conflict, with a concise history ending with the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The plaques begin with World War 1 and continue to the present with the Global War on Terror.
Atop the Heroes Wall are poles flying the flags of each of the armed services.
At the center of the Wall is the Scroll of Honor; naming those from Atascadero who laid down their lives. Atop this is the flag of the United States.
This memorial is easily accessed along Highway 41 and is on the same property as the Atascadero Lake Park and the Charles Paddock Zoo.
The Park is one of our favorites with towering mature oaks, good facilities and lovely picnic areas.
In good years when we've had sufficient rain, the lake is nice for a casual stroll or fishing. Good play areas for the kids are found here as well.
All in all, whether you make a day at the park or zoo, be sure to visit the memorial. We need a reminder now and then that "Freedom is not free".