On March 18 at the Scottsdale Civic Center Memorial Lawn, a new permanent memorial wall called the Scottsdale Memorial for the Fallen was unveiled to remember Scottsdale-area residents, including Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation veterans, who gave their lives in military service to the nation.
The memorial is a project of the nonprofit of the same name, in partnership with the City of Scottsdale.
During the ceremony, the memorial was also dedicated in memory of U.S. Marine Corps Major Jim Geiser, who spearheaded the project and who passed away last August.
In 2014, a group of Scottsdale citizens led by Geiser formed a committee and presented the idea for the memorial to the city. According to information provided by the City of Scottsdale, “The nonprofit Scottsdale Memorial for the Fallen was formed and Geiser almost singlehandedly raised more than $300,000 required to design, engineer and build the memorial. The City of Scottsdale supported the effort, including providing a location just east of City Hall. Dozens of community organizations, foundations and private individuals donated to the memorial’s construction.”
Geiser unfortunately passed away before he could see the memorial completed.
“[Geiser’s] wisdom and actions are in motion and resulted in this memorial. Jim’s spirit is certainly here with us,” said Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega, before introducing Geiser’s family members in attendance at the unveiling.
SRPMIC Vice-President Ricardo Leonard provided an honor blessing and song.
“This is a mother singing about her son leaving, and she’s crying and singing the song,” said Leonard. “And she knows that he won’t come back until he finishes what he has to do. I thought it was fitting that we do this song, not only for Major Geiser, but for all those on this wall.”
Leonard was also on hand to lay the wreath at the granite memorial.
SRPMIC Veterans Representative Amanda White felt honored to finally visit the memorial.
“I had the privilege of meeting the late Major Geiser and seeing the proposed drafts of the memorial,” said White. “His dedication to researching SRPMIC history, particularly about our Killed in Action (KIA) and Missing in Action (MIA) service members, was impressive. He even included our Native American Warriors and his accomplishments have paved the way for future memorials in surrounding cities.”
If you know of a SRPMIC service member who was a KIA or MIA recipient, contact the SRPMIC Veterans Office at (480) 362-7884 to learn about the verification process and how to proceed with honoring them at the Scottsdale Memorial for the Fallen.
Music for the ceremony was provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Band and the U.S. Air Force, Arizona National Guard Honor Guard. The Scottsdale Fire Department Pipes and Drums performed the posting of the colors.
Also in attendance as special guests were Scottsdale and Paradise Valley city council members, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (a U.S. Marine Corps veteran) and Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes.