Almost 50 veterans and supporters gathered at the Santa Cruz Memorial Veterans Building Thursday for one last look before the county's only veteran's center is closed again for repairs.
The historic hall was opened in 1932 and dedicated to veterans. Until two years ago it was a community center that had concerts, meetings and yoga classes upstairs and was a home away from home for veterans in the basement.
Two years ago pieces of stucco falling from the walls led county engineers to pronounce it unsafe. It will be bolstered with $3.6 million of retrofitting and will keep its vintage looks.
Judge John Gallagher and County Supervisor Greg Caput spoke to the crowd and saluted the veterans' work (see videos). Gallagher reminded the vets that if they found themselves in a courtroom, they should tell the judge they were veterans and he or she might be able to find ways to help them.
"Better not to find themselves in court," yelled one wag from the audience.
An honor guard fired a two-round salute that sent seagulls scurrying after the Tin Can Band played "This Land is Your Land."
Juergen M. Lang and Gordon Smith lowered the flag from a balcony and will raise it again in a temporary building on Emeline Street.