A Symbol of Courage, Sacrifice, Loyalty, and Freedom
November 15, 2023
Photo by Enrico Trujillo
U.S. Army Veteran Matt Wohlberg cuts the ribbon from the veterans memorial bench he built for UNM-Taos during a ceremony on Nov. 10.
U.S. Army Veteran Matt Wohlberg — driven by his honor in serving the country for 25 years, his memory and respect of fellow warriors, and his joy of woodworking — formally dedicated his handmade memorial bench during a Klauer campus ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 10.
The memorial bench, located outside Fred Peralta Hall, is the fourth he’s made for other military-related entities in Taos. “In honor of those who served” is engraved on the bench and below that are the emblems of the five military branches (Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard). Wohlberg created benches for Taos Pueblo, the Veterans Integration Centers, Veterans Not Forgotten Outreach, and Veteran’s Off-Grid.
The bench idea was sparked by Kelly Fitzpatrick, New Mexico Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program Manager. Funding was personally donated by the VUB team. Local businesses also donated materials.
“We want to give back to the community,” Fitzpatrick shared of how the idea came to be. “And Matt likes to work with wood.”
But Wolhberg’s bench isn’t just a large, well-crafted bench. It’s a benchmark.
“This bench is symbolic of a period when you got through life, such as making it through basic training,” he explained.
His dedication featured the following words from a plaque he once came across that expresses how he feels to be a veteran:
In Memory of All American Veterans
This bench honors all American veterans who, although separated by generations, shared a common goal—to valiantly protect the freedoms we enjoy and must surely pass from generation to generation.
The memories of these American veterans will continue to live on whenever and wherever democracy exists.
The American veteran is forever a symbol of courage, sacrifice, loyalty, and freedom.
The pre-Veterans Day ceremony was followed by lunch and a memorial video presentation in Padre Martinez Hall.