Friends, family of dead soldier unveil memorial at Long Beach high school

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

Sgt. Israel Garcia died in combat in Afghanistan in 2008. Friends and family unveiled a memorial bench in front of the library at Poly High School in Long Beach. Garcia graduated from the school in 2002.

Long Beach public officials and the friends and relatives of a soldier killed in Afghanistan gathered Friday at his high school alma mater to unveil a memorial.

Ten years ago, Israel Garcia earned his diploma from Long Beach Poly High School. Four years ago, he died as a U.S. Army sergeant in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Steven Kerns served with Garcia. He said his friend’s strength of character motivated him to seek permission for a memorial at Poly.

Garcia’s name and accomplishments are inscribed on a concrete bench in front of its library. "It’s a gateway to the center of knowledge here," said Garcia. "I definitely feel like, in doing that, his memory will live on forever and he’ll continue to inspire people like he inspired all of us."

Garcia’s widow and parents also attended. Seventeen members of Poly High’s junior ROTC opened and closed the memorial ceremony.

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