A proposal to support adding a name and dedication plaque to the main post office in Mountain View in memory of a local soldier who died in Iraq got a green light Tuesday from the City Council.
The idea was first brought to council members last month by Mountain View resident Karen Meredith, whose son First Lt. Kenneth Ballard, was killed May 30, 2004. He was 26.
But because the post office is a federal facility outside of direct city control, Meredith worked with councilmember Laura Macias to draft a proposal and take the idea to the office of U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto. Eshoo agreed to pursue the matter through federal legislation. However, the first step in the process requires a statement of support from the Mountain View City Council.
The post office naming and dedication process is largely ceremonial with a plaque measuring about 11-by-14-inches bearing Ballard’s name installed in the building. The post office’s title would not change in official federal listings. The cost would be minimal, with the United State Postal Service purchasing the plaque for $250 to $500.
However, Tuesday’s council vote wasn’t without discussion.
Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga noted that the post office is in a leased building and expressed concern about what would happen if lease were canceled or expired. Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager acknowledged that it’s not clear what would happen in that case.
Abe-Kota added that dedicating a facility that may only be temporary may not be the best idea. “We should consider something longer-lasting and honor everyone,” she said, adding that the council could hold the idea for study. “It would give us more time to figure out the best way to memorialize these individuals.”
To date, no other Mountain View resident has been killed in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Even though the council has given its formal statement of support to Eshoo, her office still needs to craft a federal bill to name and dedicate the post office for Ballard. The bill then will require unanimity of the entire California Congressional delegation.
Ballard grew up in Mountain View and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1995 and joined the Army that same year. He attended Middle Tennessee State University at Murfreesboro on an Army ROTC scholarship. After college he was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003. On May30, 2004 Ballard was killed while on duty in Najaf, Iraq.
He received three Bronze Stars, including two with Valor, and the Purple Heart. He was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.