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NEWS | May 23, 2014

Arizona Guard member works to memorialize fallen Soldier

By Sgt. Crystal Reidy Arizona National Guard

TUCSON, Ariz. - When an Arizona Army National Guard member read a news article last week about the death of a fellow Soldier and Tucsonan in Afghanistan, he knew he wanted to honor his fellow brother-in-arms.

Staff Sgt. Marcos Moreno of the 1/215th Regional Training Institute, said he wants Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras to be remembered every day, not just on Memorial Day. He is campaigning to rename Sunnyside Park in Tucson as Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras Park.

"We hear of a fallen Soldier and we mourn them today, maybe tomorrow, but then the news is back to, "What did Britney Spears do today?" Moreno said.

He read the article a second time and felt a connection between Barreras, a 1983 graduate of Sunnyside High School in Tucson, and his own three children who attended the same school.

"I just thought renaming the park next to his old high school would be the perfect way to honor this great hero," Moreno said.

Moreno applied his community outreach skills - expertise he acquired as a drug demand reduction specialist in the Guard - and planned a campaign. He started with a Facebook page to inform community members about his goal to rename the park.

"Within a week, I had 600 followers and over 7,000 impressions. Positive messages of support just started flowing in to the site," Moreno said.

He filed the name change paperwork with the city and the next step is to collect signatures from Tucson residents.

"I think I can get the 150 signatures in one day from the neighborhood nearby," said Moreno.

People visiting the park are already behind the campaign.

"I think it is a wonderful idea to honor a hometown hero with renaming the park after him," Edward Negrete, a frequent park visitor, said. "I am a veteran and was spit on when I came home after Vietnam, so it means a lot to me that fallen Soldiers are not forgotten."

Negrete said although the park is small, it is visited by many people of all ages.

Moreno said that beyond honoring Barreras, the park will remind kids they can achieve great things.

"Kids already think Soldiers are super heroes. When they read about Barreras being a Ranger and accomplishing all he did, they will see that they too can grow up in Tucson and then go travel the world and be a hero," he said.