Upon entering the Veterans Memorial Building courtyard on San Benito Street in Hollister, visitors and passersby may notice two sets of bricks that border the walkway into the building.
At one time they may have blended in with the pavement, but now they are blocked off behind rod-iron fences.
“People were walking all over them or dropping gum,” said Mike Pulido, former commander of Hollister Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9242.
“We put up a little black fence around it because it’s supposed to be hallowed ground.”
What makes these bricks special are the names that are engraved on them—the names of deceased United States veterans who served their country in combat and during times of peace. The VFW Post 9242 calls these bricks Remembrance Tiles and considers their placement to be a memorial monument.
Pulido said the local VFW Post began placing these tiles in the courtyard soon after Operation Iraqi Freedom began. Now, nearly 15 years later, there are approximately 300 bricks that memorialize veterans.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, Pulido, who volunteers as the initiative’s coordinator, wants local military families to know they can purchase a remembrance tile to honor a loved one who has passed away.
Pulido encourages residents to contact him or assistant coordinator, Paul Arballo.
“I’ll mail out the applications or they can swing by the Veteran’s Building and we can hand it out to them,” he said.
Along with documents that need to be filled out, families have to provide proof of the deceased veteran’s record of service. There is a website listed on the application to assist families in obtaining the proper records. The VFW Post 9242 is also more than happy to assist, as well, said Pulido.
There also is a fee of $150 per brick, but Pulido encourages all families to still apply.
“If the veteran’s family cannot come up with the $150, the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Legion will pitch in and pay for the brick,” he said.
Pulido, himself, has been a veteran since being honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1988. He served for 27 years and was stationed in such countries as Guam, Philippines, Japan, Thailand, Hawaii, and Alaska. He served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1969.
After serving as commander at the VFW Post from 2011 to 2013, he took over the job as tile coordinator. He is now in charge of placing the newly engraved tiles.
Pulido holds a ceremony twice a year for the newly engraved tiles, on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.
“I contact the families prior to the event, and on that day we’ll read the names of the people that they were engraved for.”
To help maintain the integrity of each tile, especially after some years of fading, Pulido and other post members will repaint some of them two or three days prior to each ceremony.
“There’s a bunch of us laying on our stomachs with little, tiny art brushes going over them with black paint. It’s time consuming, but we enjoy it,” he said.
The next tile memorial ceremony will be at 11am on Saturday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day. There will be three veterans honored, and their loved ones will be present.
The Veteran’s Memorial Building is located at 649 San Benito St. in Hollister.
Mike Pulido, tile coordinator, can be reached at 831.245.9889.
Paul Arballo, assistant tile coordinator, can be reached at 831.207.2852.