Breaking News
More () »

'People need to be reminded' | Modesto couple transform front yard into memorial for veterans

Modesto couple uses front yard, flags and artifacts as a memorial to veterans

STOCKTON, Calif — Veterans Day is a day to remember those who served our country. 

But for one couple on Wylie Drive in Modesto, it's a year round remembrance with a memorial for veterans right in their front yard.

"Once we got the flag pole, those little flags didn't work, and it just started growing," said John Shafer, co-creator.

It first started in 1991. Mariann Ayres Latham and her late husband Royal were both retired Air Force veterans with 20 years of service.

"We had the space, and we decided to do something for our fellow vets," Mariann said.

So, they did and more. They used their front yard as a historical palette to take people on a military journey with all kinds of artifacts.

"We have a fork from the Civil War. That is a field desk desk and table from World War II, a Russian World War II rifle, a Japanese World War II rifle," said Shafer, pointing to the artifacts on tables in his driveway.

When Royal passed away, John Shafer came into Mariann's life and expanded the tradition. He's a twelve year veteran of the Army.

"It's history, a lot of history. And, it's something that needs to be showed," Shafer added.

There are 80 flags here on display, including fourteen large ones. There are flags representing the Air National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, POW MIA and even Space Force.

Neighbor Teresa Keasling calls the display 'amazing' and says her kids are amazed by it, too.

"Proud, very proud to be his neighbor," Keasling said.

Mariann and John display their memorial about twenty days out of the year around patriotic holidays. It takes them about two-and-half hours to set up. But, they hope what you see here will never be forgotten.

"And I'm sorry, this country means too much for me. People need to be reminded," Mariann said.

If you would like to see the display for yourself, it's located at 1612 Wylie Drive near Downey High School in Modesto.


The History of Veterans Day

Before You Leave, Check This Out